According to a petition sent to the European Commission in 2008 by Spherix Incorporated, a US-based manufacturer of glycerol esters of gum rosin (GEGR), the ingredient is similar in characterization and technological function to glycerol esters of wood rosin (GEWR), which is currently authorized for use in Europe.
GEWR can be used in non-alcoholic flavored cloudy drinks and certain cloudy spirits up to a maximum level of 100mg per liter in Europe and Spherix had requested that GEGR be authorized for use in the same applications. It is approved for use in the United States by the US Food and Drug Administration, but EFSA gave the ingredient a negative safety opinion last month citing a lack of data on GEGR and its similarity to GEWR.
TIC Gums director of global procurement Mat O'Connor said: “Companies considering gum rosin as a substitute should be wary of such a substitution, in light of the European safety group's announcement… wood rosin remains the most effective and most tested stabilizer for beverages like lemonade and citrus soft drinks."
Spherix said that the component resin acids in the gum rosin, which is derived from living pine trees, are the same as those found in the wood rosin, which is derived from aged pine stumps. The company also maintained that the specifications of purity and technological function for the two substances are identical.
However, EFSA’s Scientific Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources added to Food said that data was missing on the identify and quantity of individual components in some fractions of GEGR, as was data on the proportions of glycerol monoesters in certain fractions of the ingredient.
In addition, no studies were available on absorption distribution, metabolism and excretion, and on several different forms of toxicity, said EFSA.