Food Law News - EU - 2010

FSA Press Release,  14 October 2010

ADDITIVES - Views sought on reducing colours in food and drink

The Food Standards Agency is asking food businesses for comments on new EU proposals to reduce levels of three colours in food and drinks. The colours are quinoline yellow, sunset yellow and ponceau 4R.

Following opinions from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the European Commission proposes to amend currently permitted levels for E 104 quinoline yellow, E 110 sunset yellow and E 124 ponceau 4R in a range of food categories to reflect the new acceptable daily Intake levels proposed by EFSA.

In addition, these colours will no longer be allowed in certain foods because the Commission thinks they are no longer required.

The changes proposed are made clear in the annexes of EC Directive 94/36 on colours for use in foodstuffs, which are currently applied in UK law by means of Article 34 of EC Regulation 1333/2008 on food additives (see the link below).

Quinoline yellow, sunset yellow and ponceau 4R are among the six colours that were used in a study undertaken by Southampton University that provided evidence for a possible link between the consumption of these food colours and hyperactivity in children.

Following the publication of the Southampton study, the Food Standards Agency requested UK industry to withdraw voluntarily the six colours from food and drink. In addition, there is a new EU labelling requirement (from 20 July 2010) for any foods continuing to contain any of the six colours.

The Agency believes that many UK manufacturers will have already reformulated their products and will no longer be using the six colours, including quinoline yellow, sunset yellow and ponceau 4R. However, the Agency is aware that for a small number of products it has proved technologically very difficult to replace these colours.

The Agency is seeking comments as to whether the reduced limits proposed by the Commission will continue to be sufficient to provide the necessary technological effect in the products manufactured by some companies. In addition, if companies are using any of these colours in the food categories that are proposed for deletion, they are asked to let the Agency know, along with how long it will take to reformulate with alternatives.

The European Commission has contacted major European trade associations on the proposed amendments and the Agency has already written to major trade associations seeking comments.

For a copy of the proposed amendments, see: Annex 5d: Proposed Revision of the Conditions of use of Quinoline Yellow

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