At its open meeting the Food Standards Agency Board discussed the research commissioned and funded by the Agency into certain artificial food colours and a preservative and their effect on children.
The Board recognised that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is considering the research as a matter of urgency and will be making an initial response to the European Commission in the next month.
The Agency’s Chair, Dame Deirdre Hutton, said she would be writing shortly to Commissioner Kyprianou to urge the Commission to act swiftly in the interests of consumers regarding the use of these colours across Europe. It was agreed that the Agency should update the European Parliament and arrange briefing as appropriate.
The Board also discussed the food industry’s response to the research and the Chair said: ‘The Board expresses its astonishment that industry has not moved more quickly to remove these artificial colours from their products, in the light of serious concerns raised by consumers. The Agency recognises that it is not always easy for consumers to identify these colours and is urging industry to make it easier for people to know which products contain them.’
Although some parts of industry have already moved to replace these artificial colours and to provide information to their customers, the Board is urging the whole of industry to act responsibly and swiftly. The Agency will also look to make its advice to consumers clearer and has pledged to work with consumers to make this advice as practical as possible.