Food Standards Allows Use in Wine of Same Additive in Laxative, Toothpaste

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By Vittorio Hernandez | November 28, 2011 10:38 AM EST

The regulator allowed the use of sodium carboxymethyl cellulose, more commonly known as cellulose gum or food additive E466, after it found the additive safe for human consumption.

Sodium carboxymethyl cellulose prevents crystals and cloudiness in white and sparkling wines. With the approval of the additive, winemakers would not longer use the traditional method of filtration and refrigeration and would save on costs by about 20 cents a bottle.

"As a result of changes in temperature during transport and storage, tartrate can crystalise in wine, resulting in cloudy wine with sediment, which is undesirable to many consumers," the WFA said in a statement.

Wine makers would add sodium CMC to the wine towards the end of the production process to make chilling or filtration no long necessary.

The MFA said wine drinkers will not know that the additive was used because the country's labelling laws do not require the inclusion of all additives to be declared on wine bottle labels.

Tony Battaglene, spokesman of Winemakers Federation said drinkers would not detect any difference in taste.

"It's environmentally very friendly because it doesn't use a lot of energy.... I don't think consumers would be concerned one way or another," he added.

The approval by the Aussie regulator came two weeks after the European Commission published on Nov. 12 regulations that made it easier for food and drink makers and enforcement officers to understand in which foods and at what levels additives could be used.

The new rules, at the same time, increases consumer protection by lowering the chance of approved additives being used in unauthorized food types or going beyond permitted levels. 

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