What are E-Numbers?

E-numbers are given to certain ingredients added to food preparations in the European Union. They are attributed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA – www.efsa.europa.eu), the agency that provides independent scientific advice in the EU, once they have been thoroughly tested and declared safe. The “E-“ stands for “Europe”.

While “E number” is used by some as a pejorative term to suggest these are artificial, and products in the supermarket may promote themselves as “free of E numbers”, this is misleading. Many components of naturally occurring foods have assigned E-numbers (and the number is a synonym for the chemical component), e.g. Vitamin C (E300 - Ascorbic Acid) and Lycopene (E160d) found in carrots.

As such, E-numbers are a guarantee that the ingredients used in your food have been scientifically tested and are safe.

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