Food alert as every additive comes under new suspicion - Times Online
A cocktail of artificial colours and the commonly-used preservative sodium benzoate are linked to hyperactivity in children, according to a ground-breaking study, commissioned by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), published by The Lancet.
London Nutritionist Yvonne Bishop-Weston registered with the Food and Mood project welcomes the FSA study and says it finally confirms what parents and teachers already knew. “It’s a disgrace that warnings in studies and research from over 3 decades ago of the dangers of food additives has taken this long to be scientifically confirmed” Yvonne says.
Campaign groups such as The Food Commission and Food and Behaviour (FAB) suggest that the strength of the food manufacturing industry and it’s strong well funded lobbying of government are to blame.
Yvonne Bishop-Weston goes on to warn that shouldn’t be complacent and just blame food additives for our decline in health. “There are many nutritional factors that effect the mood and health of our children. Eliminating dangerous food additives are an important first step in optimising diet and health but what you put in is as important as what you take out of the diet. Essential fats, especially Omega 3 long chain fatty acids, such as EPA and DHA from algae can have a profound effect on children’s development. Key amino acids can have an effect too. Stress is a very important factor in health and although other therapies may be better suited to dealing with stress, nutrition therapy can help the body better cope with stress and protect it from the detrimental effects stress causes.”
FSA study on Food additives, colourings and additives
The implications are far-reaching, say the investigators, who suggest that by vetting their child's diet, parents have a simple tool to help them tackle hyperactive behaviour.Researchers at Southampton University recruited 153 local three-year-olds and 144 children aged eight or nine and assigned them to either of two groups.
A professor of psychology at the university confirmed what many teachers and parents know already. Professor Jim Stevenson, who led the Food Standards Agency (FSA)-commissioned study, said: "We now have clear evidence that mixtures of certain food colours and benzoate preservative can adversely influence the behaviour of children.
"There is some previous evidence that some children with behavioural disorders could benefit from the removal of certain food colours from their diet.We have now shown that for a large group of children in the general population, consumption of certain mixtures of artificial food colours and benzoate preservative can influence their hyperactive behaviour."
Additives surveyed in the FSA study were: sunset yellow (E110); tartrazine (E102); carmoisine (E122); ponceau 4R (E124); quinoline yellow (E104); allura red (E129) and the preservative sodium benzoate (E211).
Previous studies on Food additives.
In the 1970s the US paediatrician Ben Feingold suggested that ADHD symptoms in many children could be reduced by eliminating from the diet various artificial food colourings, naturally occurring salicylates (substances found naturally in many fruits and vegetables) and some preservatives. A number of controlled trials – mainly published in the 1970s and 1980s - appeared to support this hypothesis, but the evidence from these was mixed.
Review of research on Additives and E numbers – Food and Behaviour Research -
http://www.foodcomm.org.uk - The Food Commission Reveal
Food additives were tested on 277 three-year-olds from the Isle of Wight. Many parents reported significant changes in behaviour. The additives tested were the artificial food colourings Tartrazine (E102), Sunset Yellow (E110), Carmoisine (E122), and Ponceau 4R (E124), and the preservative Sodium Benzoate (E211), given in a single drink. The test dose of colourings administered in the trial was well below levels permitted in children's foods and drinks. For the preservative, the test dose was equal to the permitted level. Children are likely to consumer higher doses if they eat several products that contain these additives.
Typical soft drinks and squashes which contain the additives surveyed in this study include: Irn-Bru (E110, E124, E211); Lucozade Energy (E110, E211), Diet Coke (E211); Fanta Orange (E211); Sprite (E211); Dr Pepper (E211); Vimto squash and Vimto Fizzy (E211); Ribena squash (E211).
The Food Standards Agency said there was insufficient evidence to act.
Bateman et al 2004
Results showed clear detrimental effects of the food additives (versus placebo) on children's behaviour, according to parents' ratings. These effects were not specific to any of the subgroups, but applied to the whole sample of 3-year-olds. The simple clinical tests revealed no effects of the additives.
Ian Tokelove, a spokesperson for The Food Commission, commented, "These artifical colourings may brighten up processed foods and drinks but it appears they have the potential to play havoc with some children’s behaviour. Manufacturers should clean up their act and remove these additives, which are neither needed or wanted in our food”.
In March 2007 The Food Commission revealed that all the additives tested in the latest FSA survey are banned from food and drink made specifically for the under threes, but are routinely used in medicines aimed at the same age group. Many fizzy drinks, squashes, desserts and sweets also contain these additives but carry no warning that they should not be consumed by the under threes.
NetMums give a handy shopping list detailing E Numbers, Food additives, preservatives and colourings to avoid for children.
Net Mums Shopping list
Food and Behaviour Research list a handy selection of studies and research of the effects of food additives, preservatives and colourings on mood and links with ADHD. Also a roundup of news stories about food additives in the media. http://www.fabresearch.org
The Food Commission campaign to have additives removed from food and expose anomalies such as food additives banned from baby food but unnecessarily allowed in medicines for infants. http://www.foodcomm.org.uk
Food additives banned or restricted in other countries
Tartrazine E102, Quinoline yellow E104, Sunshine yellow E110, Carmoisine E122, Ponceau 4R E124, (also known as Cochineal Red) , Allura red A4 E129, Indigo Carmine or Indigotine E132, E155 Brown HT, Sodium Benzoate E211, Benzoic acid E210 , Sulphur dioxide and other sulphite compounds E220 - E228 , Monosodium glutamate E621, Aspartame E951, Saccharine E954, Acesulfame K (potassium) E950