The European Parliament has called for warnings on foods containing certain food colours to say: “May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children”.
The Parliament has voted in favour of labelling foods containing the six food colours E110, E104, E122, E129, E102 and E124.
The move comes after research commissioned by the UK Food Standards Agency last year.
The research, known as the Southampton Study, was published last September and revealed 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 attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, more commonly known as ADHD.
Foods containing these six dyes will have to carry the warning label within 18 months of the official publication of the law, expected within the next few weeks.
Any food placed on the market before the 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 UK and EU ban, says it is a gain for the consumer in one sense, as it “deters manufacturers from using these ingredients”.
But Glazer adds the Commission is concerned that this will be “just one more thing parents are expected to look out for”. She says parents cannot vet everything their children eat outside the home or when eating out.
She says if there is enough evidence to issue a warning, the burden should be removed from parents and the colours banned, as “they serve no useful purpose”.