The Food Standards Agency in the UK has asked the food industry to report on its progress in removing additives that have been found to affect kid's behaviour.

Earlier this year the Food Standards Agency (FSA) issued new guidelines on the use of certain food additives, particularly in foods popular with children. The agency has now asked the food industry for more information regarding progress on removing the additives from their products and how long it will take.

The new guidelines followed research published by the FSA itself which confirmed that certain artifical colours, when combined with the common preservative sodium benzoate, were linked with behavioural problems in children.

Many parents have for a long time suspected that certain artificial food addtives caused behavioural changes in their children and previous research had hinted at a link. To gather more solid evidence the FSA commissioned a study conducted by scientists at Southampton University.

The researchers looked at artificial colours likely to be found in foods such as ice cream, confectionary, and ice cream, along with sodium benzoate. They investigated how these additives affected the behaviour of a group of children aged three, and a group aged eight and nine.

On the publication of the research Prof Jim Stevenson said: "This has been a major study investigating an important area of research. The results suggest that consumption of certain mixtures of artificial food colurs and sodium benzoate preservative are associated with increases in hyperactive behaviour in children."

As a result of this conclusion the FSA revised their advice to consumers. They now state that: "If a child shows signs of hyperactivity or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) then eliminating the colours used in the Southampton study from their diet might have some beneficial effects."

Prof Stevenson pointed out that there are many factors that influence the development of ADHA and related disorders and that removing these food additives only removes one risk factor. He said however, that this is one risk factor that is relatively easy to avoid.

The companies that the FSA have asked for progress reports include the UK's largest food retailers such as Somerfield, Morrisons, and Marks and Spencer. Some of the companies were able to report significant progress in removing many of that artificial colours used in the study. The FSA also heard that others had plans in place to reformulate products using safer alternatives within a specific timeframe.

Useful Link: The Netmums web site has a dedicated additives page listing foods and drinks free from the artificial colours used in the Southampton University study.

The additives found to cause behavioural problems were: Sunset Yellow (E110, Tartrazine (E102), Carmoisine (E122), Ponceau 4R (E124, Quinoline Yellow (E104), Allura Red (E129), Sodium Benzoate (E211)



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