Cocktail of additivesHarmful additives found in kids food

09 March 2006

Some children's foods may contain a cocktail of additives which could have a harmful effect on youngsters' health, new research claims.

Researchers at the University of Liverpool examined the effects on nerve cells of four common food additives found in thousands of processed snacks including sweets, drinks, crisps and ice lollies.

They exposed nerve cells taken from mice to E133 Brilliant Blue, E621 monosodium glutamate (MSG), E104 Quinoline Yellow and E951 aspartame at levels similar to those found in some children's snacks and drinks.

The study's aim was to imitate the concentration of additives which enters the child's bloodstream after they eat a typical children's snack and drink.

Researchers found that additives had a toxic effect on nerve cells and that the combined impact of the additives was up to seven times greater than that of the additives' individual effects added together.

'They multiply the effects'

Organic campaign group the Soil Association and organic food manufacturer Organix Brands have presented the findings to Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt.

Soil Association Policy Director Peter Melchett said a fizzy drink and a packet of crisps eaten together would typically contain all four of the additives used in the tests.

He backed calls for a ban on fizzy drinks in schools, adding: 'The fact of the matter is that there is a significant problem. Nobody has looked at the whole range of additives and how they combine, and it is probably an impossible task because there are so many combinations. They don't just add to each other, they multiply the effects.

'On a purely precautionary basis these additives and colourings shouldn't be used in children's food at all.'

Organix Brands and the Soil Association have found 30 foods marketed to children which use the four additives. They have written to the manufacturers and the Food Standards Agency calling for an immediate response to the report.