Published by SIPA
Some crustacean processors are being encouraged to reject Nephrops and shrimps that have been dipped in Xyrex Prawnfresh or Everfresh because these products contain 4-hexylresorcinol (E586). They are being told that the additive has endocrine disruptive properties and is being investigated by ANSES and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).
4-Hexylresorcinol is a permitted additive in the EU and its safety is not under review. It is permitted in the EU for use on fresh, frozen or deep frozen crustaceans. Its safety was established most recently by an EFSA Opinion in 2014.
As far as I can see, the confusion has arisen because ANSES has proposed that a similar sounding substance, resorcinol, is considered an endocrine disruptive chemical. They have submitted a dossier of evidence to ECHA. Resorcinol is currently not approved as an additive in the EU, so ANSES’s proposal should not concern anybody in the seafood business. It is unfortunate however that the dossier mistakenly lists resorcinol as a legal additive for the prevention of blackspot in crustaceans, which may have led to the misunderstanding.
In the UK and in many EU member states treatment with E586 is preferred to treatment with sulphites/metabisulphites because 1) 4-hexylresorcinol is easier and safer to handle compared to sulphites on board the fishing vessel, and 2) the product does not require an allergen warning.