The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) says one of the flavourings used to give smoke flavour to meat, cheese or fish, may be toxic to humans.
The authority looked at 11 smoke flavourings commonly used in the European Union. It says several of the flavourings are dangerously close to levels which may cause harm to humans. The European Commission will now establish a list of smoke-flavouring products that are safe for use in food.
The smoke flavourings are products which can be added to foods to give them a "smoked" flavour, as an alternative to traditional smoking. EFSA says it "cannot rule out concerns" about a flavouring called Primary Product AM 01, which is obtained from beech wood. The wood particles are burnt under controlled conditions and the hot vapours are dissolved in a solvent. The Panel says the use of the substance "at the intended levels is a safety concern".