Following the publication of the Southampton study in 2007, which linked mixes of certain food colours to hyperactivity in children, public opinion has turned against artificial colours whose only purpose in foods is to make them look attractive.
Even though the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) saw no reason to alter intake advice for the six colours in the study (sunset yellow E110, tartrazine E102, carmoisine E122, ponceau 4R E124, quinoline yellow E104 and allura red E129), a last minute addition was made to the new food additives package that will require companies using them to flag up their presence on packaging.
The wording – “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children” – will be mandatory from next summer and has been called a de facto ban since it would have a strong effect on sales. Already there is a strong movement away from using the Southampton colours amongst manufacturers and retailers.
Symrise is calling its range of natural colours and colourant foods SymColor, and is now offering a consultation service to help manufacturers use them do deliver the most suitable results, but without encountering labelling difficulties.
Its natural colours “come from components found in nature”, the company says. The portfolio also includes some synthetic colours that have an identical molecular structure to those found in nature.
Colourant foods, meanwhile, are from natural raw materials and plants that are considered foods in their own right, and therefore do not need to be labelled with an E number. Plant sources include grapes, hibiscus, tomatoes and beets.
Dirk Bennwitz, senior vice president of Symrise’s sweet business unit, said: “The new legislation does not always make it easy for food manufacturers to understand the extent to which they are affected. They can turn to us for consultation to get a quick overview, no strings attached.”
The new EU legislation on food additives, which replaces 12 old regulations on additives including colours, flavours, and enzymes, is due to come into force in January 2010 but companies that stick with the Southampton colours have until next July to comply with the colouring labelling requirements.