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Let’s clarify: what changes in labelling from 8th December

Dr. Serena Belfante – Laboratory Manager

In December 2021, the European Commission introduced Regulation (EU) 2021/2117, which makes significant changes to labeling rules for wines and flavored wine products. This legislation makes the disclosure of the ingredient list and nutrition declaration online mandatory, marking a breakthrough in the food and beverage labeling industry.

After a 2-year transition period, these new rules will come into effect from December 2023, extending to all alcoholic beverages on the European market.

However, the EU specifies that it is not mandatory to list additives and enzymes used as processing aids, unless they are allergens or intolerances present in the final product.

Functions of additives and processing aids

Each additive and processing aid generally performs one or more functions. Additives aim to improve nutritional quality, organoleptic characteristics and preservation by replacing or adding to physical processes such as heat or cold. Processing aids are used to optimize winemaking processes, such as clarification or stabilization.

The example of gum arabic

A notable example is gum arabic, which is produced from certain acacia species in arid and semi-arid regions of Africa and Asia. With more than 5,000 years of use, this gum has applications as a stabilizer, emulsifier, thickener, humectant, and antioxidant in a variety of industries, including wine, food, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, textiles, paper, inks, and paints.

In the oenological sector, gum arabic, due to hydrophobic interactions and hydrogen bonds, interacts with polyphenols or proteins. This provides protection of colloidal substances, preventing precipitation of coloring matter in red wines and improving foam stability. It also acts on acidity, bitterness and astringency of tannins, contributing significantly to preserving the integrity and quality of the wine.

Transparency as a key factor in overcoming consumer distrust

All these characteristics highlight the usefulness of gum arabic in helping to ensure the integrity and quality of wine. Recognizing the importance of additives in winemaking is essential to address the fundamental problem: consumer uncertainty. Transparency in labeling can overcome mistrust and negative perceptions by explaining to consumers the usefulness of additives in winemaking and justifying the processes involved.