Notice of Modification to the List of Permitted Preservatives to Enable the Use of Ascorbic Acid as a Preservative in Olives

Notice of Modification - Lists of Permitted Food Additives
Reference Number: NOM/ADM-0004

December 20, 2012

Summary

Food additives are regulated in Canada under the Food and Drug Regulations and Marketing Authorizations (MAs) issued by the Minister of Health.  Approved food additives and their permitted conditions of use are set out in the Lists of Permitted Food Additives that are incorporated by reference in the MAs.  A petitioner can request that Health Canada approve a new additive or a new condition of use for an already approved additive by filing a food additive submission with the Department's Food Directorate.  Health Canada uses this premarket approval process to determine whether the scientific data support the safety of food additives when used under specified conditions in foods sold in Canada.

Health Canada received a food additive submission seeking approval for the use of ascorbic acid as an antioxidant in green olives at a maximum level of use consistent with Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP). The ascorbic acid is to be used to prevent discolouration (browning) of the olives.

Ascorbic acid is already permitted for use in Canada as an antioxidant preservative in a variety of foods at various levels of use. However, it is not permitted for use in olives, which are a standardized food in Canada.

The results of Health Canada's evaluation of available scientific data support the safety and efficacy of ascorbic acid when used as described.  Therefore, Health Canada has modified Part 4 of the List of Permitted Preservatives to extend the use of ascorbic acid by adding the entry shown below to the list.

Modification to the List of Permitted Preservatives
Item No. Column 1
Additive
Column 2
Permitted in or upon
Column 3
Maximum Level of Use and Other Conditions
A.1 Ascorbic Acid (3)
Olives
(3)
Good Manufacturing Practice

Rationale

Health Canada's Food Directorate has completed a pre-market safety assessment of ascorbic acid used as described above. The assessment considered the toxicological, chemical, microbiological and nutritional aspects of the use of ascorbic acid in olives at a level consistent with GMP.

Ascorbic acid is currently permitted for use as a food additive in a variety of foods.  In some foods, the maximum level of use is identified as GMP while in others, the level of use ranges from 150 p.p.m. to 550 p.p.m. However, there is no provision in the Lists of Permitted Food Additives for the use of ascorbic acid in "olives". The use of ascorbic acid in olives would add a negligible amount to the total amount of ascorbic acid consumed by Canadians on a daily basis and does not represent a safety concern.

Other Relevant Information

  • Ascorbic acid used in foods sold in Canada must meet the food-grade specifications for this additive set out in the most recent edition of the Food Chemicals Codex.
  • There is a standard of identity and composition for olives set out in section B.11.050 of Division 11 of the Food and Drug Regulations (Part B).  Given that olives are a standardized food in Canada, Health Canada consulted with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the appropriate food industry association about the use of ascorbic acid in olives. There were no objections to the described use of this additive.
  • The Codex Standard for Table Olives (CODEX STAN 66-1981), which was elaborated jointly between the Codex Alimentarius and the International Olive Oil Council, specifically provides for the use of ascorbic acid as an antioxidant in olives at a maximum level of use of 0.2 g/kg (i.e. 0.02%).

Based on the results of the safety assessment, Health Canada's Food Directorate considers that the data support the safety of ascorbic acid when used as an antioxidant preservative in olives at levels consistent with GMP.  The Department has therefore enabled the use of ascorbic acid as described in the above table.

Implementation and Enforcement

The above modification came into force the day it was published in the List of Permitted Preservatives.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is responsible for the enforcement of the food-related aspects of the Food and Drugs Act and its associated regulations.

Contact Information

For additional information or to submit information related to this modification of the List of Permitted Preservatives, please contact:

Bureau of Chemical Safety
251 Sir Frederick Banting Driveway
Tunney's Pasture, PL: 2202C
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0L2

When communicating by e-mail, please use the words "Ascorbic acid in olives" in the subject line of your e-mail.

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: