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FSA quizzes industry on effects of proposed lower colouring uses

By Jess Halliday , 18-Oct-2010

The UK’s Food Standards Agency is seeking industry views on the effect of proposed new maximum levels of three food colourings across a raft of categories – and its proposed total deletion in others.

The European Food Safety Authority has lowered the ADI for Ponceau 4R (E124), Quinoline Yellow (E104), Sunset Yellow (E110) last November, following urgent safety reassessments in the wake of the Southampton study that suggested a possible link for these (as well as three other colours and sodium benzoate) with hyperactivity in children.

The ADI lowering was for reasons other than an apparent effect on hyperactivity, as EFSA could not find solid evidence to back this up. The ADI lowering prompted the European Commission to propose amendments to currently permitted levels.

However all six of the Southampton colours have since become the subject of a wide-spread work to remove them from food products. In the UK the food industry has asked for voluntary reformulation, and since July a European warning label on hyperactivity risk has been required on products containing any one of the three.

For a small number of products reformulation may not have been possible, the FSA says, for technological reasons.

It is now seeking comments as to whether the reduced limits proposed will provide the necessary technological effect. It also wants to know if the colours are still being used in any categories marked for deletion, how long it will be before reformulation is completed.

The FSA says it has also written to major industry associations seeking comments.

Proposed deletions

It is proposed that use of Quinoline Yellow, Ponceau 4R and Sunset Yellow be deleted for edible ices; fish and crustacean paste; pre-cooked crustaceans; salmon substitutes; surimi; fish roe; smoked fish; red fruit preserves; soups; and savoury snacks (both extruded and coated nuts).

Ponceau 4R and Sunset Yellow also look to be for the chop in flavoured processed cheeses and sauces and seasonings – as well as Ponceau 4R’s use in edible cheese rinds and casings.

Sunset Yellow’s technological need in red fruits is also being questioned.

The full list of proposed changes, including a raft of lower maximum limits, is available from the FSA here. http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/annex5dquinolineyellow.pdf

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