E number



  • A three-figure number, currently in the range 100 to 500 and prefixed by a capital E, which is used on packaging to identify all food additives accepted as safe throughout the EU. These do not cover all the additives allowed in the UK or other countries of the EU. Many of these have numbers, and those legal in the UK but not generally throughout the EU are followed by a note saying ‘not licensed for use throughout the EU’.


  • noun a classification of additives to food according to the European Union


  • noun a classification number given to a food additive by the European Union