Additives study 'no basis for curbs'EU food watchdog gives view on FSA study

17 March 2008

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EU food watchdogs have decided that a major study linking certain additives to hyperactivity in children is no basis for curbs.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) - the EU equivalent of the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) - reviewed a recent study on the effect of certain food colours and a preservative sodium benzoate on children's behaviour. The mix is most likely to be found in foods popular with children such as soft drinks, confectionery, and ice cream.

The study, which was carried out by Southampton University and funded by the UK FSA, suggested that eating or drinking certain mixes of these colours with the preservative sodium benzoate could be linked to hyperactivity in children.

'Limited evidence'

But EFSA has concluded that the study provided 'limited evidence' that the mixtures studied had 'a small effect of the actvitiy and attention of some children'. But it said the effects were inconsistent.

The study had led the FSA to revise its guidance to parents. On the basis of the findings, it had suggested that if a child showed signs of hyperactivity or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), then eliminating the colours in study from their diet 'might have some beneficial effects'.

The FSA will now review EFSA's opinion in detail and discuss it and any further action at its board meeting next month.