E number

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E numbers are number codes for food additives. They are usually found on food labels throughout the European Union. The numbering scheme follows that of the International Numbering System (INS) as determined by the Codex Alimentarius committee. Only a subset of the INS additives are approved for use in the European Union, the 'E' prefix which stands for Europe. In casual language in the UK and Ireland, the term "E-number" is used as a pejorative term for artificial food additives, and products may promote themselves as "free of E-numbers" even though some of the ingredients (e.g. bicarbonate of soda) do have such a code.

E numbers are also encountered on food labeling in other jurisdictions, including the GCC, Australia, New Zealand and Israel. They are increasingly (though still rarely) found on North American packaging, especially in Canada. The "E" prefix is omitted in Australia and New Zealand, and the term "E-Number" unknown.

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