Smoking of certain perishable foods such as meat and fish was, and is still used as a preservation technique in food production. In addition, the sensory changes in colour and flavour produced by smoking are also positively perceived by consumers. With the industrialisation of food production, the process of smoking was also optimised, e.g. by automation and the invention of liquid smoke flavourings. The development of such smoke flavourings dates back to the late 19th [1-3] century and was initially intended as a replacement for the traditional smoking process. Liquid smoke flavourings are produced by controlled thermal degradation of wood in a limited supply of oxygen (pyrolysis), subsequent condensation of the vapours and fractionation of the resulting products. The primary products (primary smoke condensates and primary tar fractions) obtained may be further processed to produce smoke flavourings which can be applied in or on the surface of foods .
In 2003, the Regulation (EC) No 2065/2003 of the European Parliament and the Council on smoke flavourings entered into force and stipulated that in order to protect human health, smoke flavourings should undergo an individual safety assessment before being placed on the market or used in or on foods. This legislation requests the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to carry out the safety assessment for these products. In order to perform the safety assessment smoke flavouring producers had to submit technical dossiers to EFSA containing information on the manufacturing process, the chemical composition and the toxicological properties of each defined primary smoke flavouring product .
Until the deadline in June 2005 for submission of dossiers by industry, 16 applications were received by EFSA of which two were found not to be valid and three applications were withdrawn.
Individual data and details for each smoke flavouring primary product were provided by the applicants and are reported in the respective scientific opinions of the Scientific Panel on Food Contact Materials, Flavourings, Enzymes and Processing Aids (CEF) which are available from the EFSA website.