Warning labels on foods with colours linked to hyperactivity

04th October 2010 - Fine Cut

Warning labels must be included on food and drink if they contain certain food colourings which are known to be linked with behavioural problems.

According to the story on Which? the six colours can currently be found in common food items found in many supermarkets. The food colours are Quinoline Yellow (E104), Allura Red (E129), Sunset Yellow (E110), Carmoisine (E122), Tartrazine (E102) and Ponceau 4R (E124).

A study at the University of Southampton found the additives were linked to behavioural problems which include temper tantrums, poor concentration, hyperactivity and allergic reactions. The decision to place warnings on packaging featuring the additives came after a ruling by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

However, an investigation by consumer magazine Which? found that whilst the warning was displayed on some packaging, it did not feature on all. Which? discovered that the products which did state: "May have effects on activity and attention in children," usually had the message on the ingredients list making it difficult to spot.

The FSA has worked alongside the food industry to remove the colours from as many products as possible. Major supermarkets including Asda, the Co-Op, Sainsbury's and Tesco have had the colours removed from their own brand foods.

Paediatric dietitian Kate Ansell told Which?: "These additives aren't going to make every child zoom around the room. However, parents of certain susceptible children where behaviour is known to be an issue may wish to look for alternatives."

Categories: Articles
back to Insights