The soft drinks industry has responded to recent Food Standards Agency research suggesting links between certain artificial food additives and colourings used in soft drinks and hyperactivity in children.

The British Soft Drinks Association said today (6 September) that it is "always responding to changing consumer preferences and manufacturers will continue to look at alternative to the colours used in the study".

The study, led by Jim Stevenson at the University of Southampton, carried out tests on more than 300 children in two groups, one comprising three-year-olds and the other eight- and nine-year-olds. Researchers said it showed significant differences in the behaviour of children who had drunk fruit drinks containing a mixture of food colourings and preservatives.

The industry organisation said: "It should be noted that this study used a mixture of ingredients in each trial and due to the nature of the research, the effect of individual colours on the behaviour of children surveyed could not be determined. In view of this, we support the FSA's decision for this study to be considered by the European Food Safety Authority as part of its overall review of food additives."

Among the colourings and additives given to the children were sunset yellow colouring, also known as E110; carmoisine, or E122; tartrazine, or E102; ponceau 4R, or E124; the preservative sodium benzoate, or E211.

The BSDA added: "Food and drink products must list every ingredient used on the label so that consumers are able to check the ingredients before purchase."