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Parents Warned About Artificial Food Colouring

Oct 17, 2007
Parents have been warned not to give their children food containing certain artifical colouring until the results of a new study are published. UK researchers have recently tested the effects of a range of artificial colourings on children's behaviour. Their results were in line with previous research which suggested that certain artificial colourings were linked with hyperactivity and poor concentration.

So far the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has said that it will not issue formal guidelines until the results of the study are formally published. However, independent experts have said that parents should avoid foodstuffs containing the additives until the results are studied just to be safe.

The team at the University of Southampton tested the additives tartrazine (E102), ponceau 4R (E124), sunset yellow (E110), carmoisine (E122), quinoline yellow (E104) and allura red AC (E129) on both three-year olds and eight-to-nine year olds, using quantities that an average child may consume in a day. Their results supported findings from seven years ago which linked the additives to behavioural problems such as temper tantrums, poor concentration, hyperactivity and allergic reactions.

The FSA's Committee of Toxicity on Chemicals looked at the original research, known as the Isle of Wight study, and decided in 2002 that the research was inconclusive. Now the FSA has said that they are aware of the new findings but that they would not act on them until the results were formally published.

Pru Leith, chair of the School Food Trust said she hoped the findings would be published quickly but the FSA had to follow scientific protocols before making recommendations. "We are very keen to promote fresh healthy home cooked food and if you get that sort of food you don't have to worry about additives. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence from teachers and parents about children behaving badly when they're given sugary food stuffs so in the end I'm sure we will have the corroborating evidence."

Professor Vyvyan Howard, one of the experts on the FSA's Additives and Behaviour Working Group said it was important the findings were published but that consumers could choose not to buy products containing the additives. "It is biologically plausible that there could be an effect from these additives. While you are waiting for the results to come out you can choose not to expose your children to these substances. These compounds have no nutritional value and I personally do not feed these sorts of foods to my 15-month-old daughter."

Sainsburys recently announced that it would ban artificial colours and flavourings in its own-label soft drinks, whilst other supermarkets are said to be reviewing their policies on additives after pressure from parents.
About the Author
Guide to Nutrition explores the issue of nutrition and health so that you can find out more information about what you eat and the effect it has on your life. For more information please visit http://www.guide-to-nutrition.com
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