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Ministers accept proposed FSA voluntary ban on six suspect food colours

No Embargo - for immediate release. 12th Nov 2008

Government Ministers have agreed with the Food Standard Agency's (FSA) proposal for a voluntary ban on six food colourings linked to an increased risk of hyperactivity in children. The Action on Additives campaign welcomes Ministerial acceptance of the FSA's proposal, intended to remove these artificial colours by the end of 2009. 

The FSA proposal was made in April 2008 and followed the publication in September 2007 of research known as the Southampton Study, that linked the six colourings, along with one preservative, to increased hyperactivity in children. The preservative, sodium benzoate, is not included in the voluntary ban.

Evidence was provided to the FSA board by the Action on Additives campaign, which published details of over 1,000 products on sale in the UK between October 2007 and April 2008, that contained one or more of the additives featured in the Southampton Study. 

Action on Additives campaign co-ordinator Anna Glayzer said, "It is good news that the FSA can now move forward with the voluntary ban. We have been keeping an eye on the market since the FSA advice to Ministers was agreed in April. Some companies have already removed the colours from products, but many are dragging their feet. It is essential that the FSA keeps up the pressure on companies to get rid of these potentially harmful and utterly unnecessary ingredients."

Notes to editors

The six food colourings which, along with the preservative E211 sodium benzoate, were shown by the Southampton Study to increase hyperactivity in children:

  • E102 Tartrazine
  • E104 Quinoline Yellow
  • E110 Sunset Yellow
  • E122 Carmoisine
  • E124 Ponceau 4R
  • E129 Allura Red

The Action on Additives campaign is currently surveying the market again, with details of products containing the colours being added to the website as they are collected.

In July 2008 the The European Parliament voted in favour of labelling foods containing the six food colours E110, E104, E122, E129, E102 and E124  with the words "may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children." This requirement is likely to come into force around mid 2010.

For further information contact Anna Glayzer 020 7837 2250, email: website,

The Action on Additives campaign is coordinated by The Food Commission, an independent food watchdog, and was set up in direct response to September 2007 research which showed a link between consumption of food colourings and hyperactive behaviour in some children. See