The European Commission’s response to the question of food acetaldehyde by MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen

| Source: Biohit Oyj

Biohit Oyj Stock Exchange Release June 11, 2014 at 5 p.m. local time (EEST)

MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen asked the Commission, whether the Commission, in the light of research which stresses the carcinogenic nature of acetaldehyde, does intend to set a limit for acetaldehyde in food or alcoholic beverages? If not, how will the Commission ensure that alcoholic beverages and food products offered for sale in the EU do not contain levels of acetaldehyde which are harmful to consumers?

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) announced in 2009 that acetaldehyde in alcoholic beverages was carcinogenic in human beings. On this basis, the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) set up by the Commission again updated its guidelines on cosmetic products. On the basis of a new unanimous recommendation, a cosmetic end-product is not permitted to contain more than 5 mg of acetaldehyde per litre. No limit has been laid down for foods, although commercial food products such as yoghurts have been shown to contain more than 5 mg of acetaldehyde per litre. Many alcoholic beverages contain levels of acetaldehyde that exceed by a factor of more than 100 the limit which applies to cosmetics.

The Commission answered that The Commission will raise the issue with the competent authorities of the Member States and, if appropriate, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) will be requested to assess the risk for human health related to the presence of acetaldehyde in food as process contaminant or as a natural flavour. Taking into account the outcome of the risk assessment, the appropriateness of setting maximum levels for acetaldehyde in food and alcoholic beverages will be considered.

The Commission’s reply also states that In accordance with Article 14 of Regulation (EC) 178/2002(2), food that is not safe shall not be placed on the market. Consequently, alcoholic beverages and food products which contain levels of acetaldehyde harmful to consumers shall not be placed on the market or, when already placed on the market, shall be withdrawn from the market.

CEO Semi Korpela, Biohit Oyj: ’Almost all of the upper gastrointestinal tract cancer risk factors are associated with an increased exposure to acetaldehyde. The Commission has now given the first clear statement with regard to concentrations of harmful acetaldehyde, which envisages that in the future acetaldehyde will be taken into account in product safety. According to laboratory analyses by Biohit and international research groups, a number of food products on the market contain abundantly carcinogenic acetaldehyde. These foods include e.g. yoghurts marketed as health-promoting, among others. ‘

The EU regulates the use of carcinogenic substances as part, inter alia, of legislation on product safety and food products. The regulation on food products states that food legislation is based on scientific evidence [Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council].

Additional information:
CEO Semi Korpela, Biohit Oyj
tel. +358 9 773 861

Attachment: European Commission Question and Answer

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Biohit Oyj is a globally operating Finnish biotechnology company. Biohit’s mission is “Innovating for Health” – we produce innovative products and services to promote research and early diagnosis. Biohit is headquartered in Helsinki, Finland, and has subsidiaries in Italy and the UK. Biohit's Series B share (BIOBV) is quoted on NASDAQ OMX Helsinki in the Small cap/Healthcare group.

Biohit Oyj Laboratory Services offer the determination of acetaldehyde concentration in food and alcohol beverages. Read more at,, reveals your acetaldehyde exposure.