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Food colours linked to hyperactivity

Warnings to appear on foods containing colours

New rules mean that food and drinks containing certain food colours must contain a warning on their labels.

Six food colours to get warnings

The six colours are currently found in a number of common food items, including Irn-Bru, some Hartley’s Fruit Jelly, Lucozade and Oasis. 

The colours are also appear in Calpol Original and a number of Benylin products, as well as other cough medicines. 

The food colours are Quinoline Yellow (E104), Allura Red (E129), Sunset Yellow (E110), Carmoisine (E122), Tartrazine (E102), Ponceau 4R (E124).

Warnings on packaging

When we checked popular products, the warning was on some packaging – but not all. Where ‘May have effects on activity and attention in children’ is shown, it’s on the ingredients list and can be very hard to spot.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has worked with the food industry to remove the colours. Major retailers, including Asda, The Co-op, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, M&S and Waitrose, have removed them from their own-brand products.

The FSA has a list of products free from the colours here.

The effect on children

According to paediatric dietician Kate Ansell: ‘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.’

The warning was issued by the FSA following a study at the University of Southampton. The additives were linked to behavioural problems such as temper tantrums, poor concentration, hyperactivity, and allergic reactions.

To make sure your food is free of these colours, why not make your own? You can read about our Best Buy ice cream makers, juicers, smoothie makers and other kitchen appliances here

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