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Warning labels for coloured foods to become EU law

Monday 8th July 2008

The European Parliament has 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."

The provision was added following evidence generated by research commissioned by the UK Food Standards Agency, published in September 2007. The research, known as the "Southampton Study" showed that a combination of six food colours and one preservative increased hyperactivity in a cross section of children, not just those who had been previously diagnosed with ADHD.

Foods containing the six dyes will have to carry the warning within eighteen months of the official publication of the law, expected within the next few weeks. Any food placed on the market before the eighteen month deadline will be allowed to stay on the shelf until the sell by date has been reached.

Anna Glayzer, co-ordinator of the Food Commission's "Action on Additives" Campaign, which has been lobbying for a ban both in the UK and EU said, "This is in one sense a gain for the consumer, in that it should deter manufacturers from using these ingredients. Our concern is that this will be just one more thing parents are expected to look out for. Even if you do have time to check every label while you shop, you can't vet everything your child eats outside the home, and if you are eating out you don't even get to see labels. If we have enough evidence to issue a warning, why not take the burden off the parent and simply ban these colours? They serve no useful purpose in our food."

Further information:

European Parliament Press Release:

Following its April 2008 board meeting, the UK Food Standards Agency issued advice to the Government to back a mandatory EU ban on the six colours.

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

Some examples of new products on the UK market containing the colours:

Cadbury's Creme Egg Twister, manufactured by Cadbury Trebor Bassett conatins E110 Sunset Yellow.

Starburst Choozers, manufactured by Mars, contain E104 and E122.

Sugarfree Trident Splash Apple and Apricot Flavour Gum, manufactured by Cadbury Trebor Bassett, contains E104

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