Smoke flavorings: towards stricter European regulations

Smoke flavorings: towards stricter European regulations

Everything you need to know about the latest news on artificial smoke flavorings, their possible withdrawal from the market and existing alternatives.

Smoking is an ancient food preservation technique dating back to the Paleolithic era. Originally, it was used to preserve meat and fish by exposing them to smoke produced by burning wood or other materials.

The smoking process involves exposing food to smoke generated by slow, controlled fire. This smoke contains phenolic compounds and other chemicals that inhibit the growth of bacteria, thus prolonging the shelf life of food.

Smoking was mainly used on meats such as pork, beef, and fish, as it helped prevent spoilage, particularly in warmer climates where refrigeration was not available. The technique also added a distinctive flavor to foods, contributing to their gustatory appeal.

Smoking has thus played a crucial role in human nutrition for millennia, providing an effective method of preserving food while enhancing its taste.

In addition to their preservative function, smoke aromas add a distinctive, pleasant flavor to foods. Wood smoke gives foods a richness and depth of flavor that can be greatly appreciated. This smoky flavor is often associated with comforting, traditional culinary experiences, evoking memories of outdoor barbecues, wood-fired meals or rustic dishes prepared in fireplaces. Today, smoke flavors also add an extra dimension to gastronomy, enabling chefs and food manufacturers to create unique taste experiences for consumers.

Traditional smoking or artificial flavors

Traditional smoke taste is derived from vegetal sources such as beech, oak, fruitwood or other materials used in the food smoking process. These tastes are obtained by directly exposing foods to the smoke produced by the combustion of these materials during the traditional smoking process. In this way, traditional smoke profiles are authentically obtained from real smoke and are more complex and authentic, reflecting the specific characteristics of the smoking material used.

Over time, with the progress of science and technology in the food industry, researchers have succeeded in recreating smoke aromas synthetically. These flavors are produced by combining different chemical substances that mimic the flavors and odors typical of traditional smoking.

Artificial smoke flavors are generally made from compounds such as aldehydes, phenols, and ketones, which are blended to faithfully reproduce the nuances and characteristics of typical  smoke. These flavors are often used in the food industry to give food products a smoky flavor without resorting to the traditional smoking process.

This innovation has enabled manufacturers to produce foods with an authentic smoky taste to meet consumer demands for products that offer a familiar and pleasurable taste experience.

Where can they be found ?

These flavors can be  found in a wide variety of products, including ready-made meals, meat and fish, snacks, sauces, and certain soups. Since they were first approved, they have been increasingly used in food (+ 2.8% new product with smoke flavors/year) [1].

On January 1, 2014, 10 artificial smoke flavors were granted authorization for use in or on foods and/or for the production of derived smoke flavors, for a period of 10 years, until January 1, 2024 [2].

Here is the list of these products (and their authorization holders) :

  • SF-001 : Scansmoke PB 1110 (Azelis Denmark A/S)
  • SF-002 : Zesti Smoke Code 10 (Mastertaste)
  • SF-003 : Smoke Concentrate 809045 (Symrise AG)
  • SF-004 : Scansmoke SEF 7525 (Azelis Denmark A/S)
  • SF-005 : SmokEz C-10 (Red Arrow Products Company LLC)
  • SF-006 : SmokEz Enviro-23 (Red Arrow Products Company LLC)
  • SF-007 : TradismokeTM A MAX (Nactis)
  • SF-008 : proFagus-Smoke R709 (ProFagus Gmbh)
  • SF-009 : Fumokomp (Kompozíció Kft)
  • SF-010 : AM 01 (AROMARCO, s.r.o)

(As no applications have been submitted for the renewal of the authorisations of SF-007 and SF-010, the authorisations of these smoke flavoring primary products expire on 31 December 2023.)

Compounds now considered dangerous

As the January 1, 2024, deadline approached, 8 of these 10 candidates have asked the European Commission to extend their authorizations by 10 years [3] [4]. European legislation therefore requires that the safety of these artificial smoke flavors be assessed before they are marketed.

Using a methodology, the authority concluded that six of the artificial flavors evaluated contain genotoxic substances and therefore pose safety concerns. Safety concerns for the other two could not be excluded due to lack of data.

On April 24, 2024, member states approved the Commission’s proposal not to renew the authorization of these smoke flavors for foodstuffs. The regulation provides for their gradual withdrawal. Where smoke flavoring is used to replace traditional smoking (hams, fish, cheeses, etc.), the phase-out period is 5 years. For uses where smoke flavoring is added to enhance flavor (soups, chips, sauces), the phase-out period will be 2 years [5].

Yeast ingredients, a natural solution

The regulatory changes on artificial smoke flavors, combined with growing consumer interest in traditional products and the importance attached to ingredient transparency, will therefore stimulate the development and use of less artificial solutions in the food industry. In this context, healthier ingredients such as yeast products appear to be the ideal alternative.

Biospringer has developed a wide range of products derived from baker’s yeast to bring specific flavor notes to food: the Springer® Signature range. Our products are derived from natural yeast fermentation processes, making them a healthy source of flavor. This range includes the Springer® Signature SY101, a vegan and vegetarian suitable smoked yeast. It is obtained through an authentic smoking process that brings the nuances and characteristics of traditional smoke aromas and gives food products a rich, authentic smoky taste.

It can be used in a wide range of applications and can be easily incorporated to enrich flavor profiles and meet consumer expectations for taste and quality. It is healthy and versatile alternative for flavoring food products. Their use enables producers to meet consumer expectations in terms of naturalness, while ensuring regulatory compliance and product taste quality. This makes yeast extracts an ideal solution in a context of tightening European regulations on artificial smoke flavors.


[1]. Innovadatabase NPD 2014-2023. (Consulted on 2024, March 27)
[2]. Commission implementing regulation (EU) No 1321/2013. (2013, December 10) Establishing the Union list of authorised smoke flavouring primary products for use as such in or on foods and/or for the production of derived smoke flavourings.
[3]. European Food Safety Authority. (2023, November 16). Smoke flavourings.
[4]. European Food Safety Authority. (2023, November 16). Smoke flavourings: Q&A with Wim Mennes, EFSA’s working group chair on flavourings. European Food Safety Authority.
[5]. European Food Safety Authority. (2024, April 24). Member States endorse withdrawal of smoke flavourings from EU market.

BIOSPRINGER is a trademark and it does not imply systematically that the product is organic according to EU Regulation 2018/ 848, the status of each product supplied should be checked on the technical documentation.