UK: Soft drink additives must carry warning – lobby group
A UK pressure group has called for soft drinks that use certain additives to carry health warnings.
The Food Commission, a non-profit organisation which campaigns for "safe, wholesome food", said yesterday (12 June) that several preservatives and colourings, regularly used in some soft drinks, are supposed to carry health warnings when used in medicines, but are not required to carry warnings when used in food and drinks.
"We are exposed to much greater quantities of food additives in our daily food and drink compared to medicines, which most of us consume infrequently, but food labels give no warnings for these additives," the organisation said. "Medical guidelines say that a warning should be given when these additives are used at even the lowest of levels, with anything over 'zero' requiring a warning."
The Commission said that, while the artificial colouring E110 - sunset yellow - is covered by a warning in medicine, drinks like Irn-Bru and Lucozade Energy, which both use the colouring, do not require any such warning. Another example cited was E211 - sodium benzoate - which, the commission claimed, is present in Diet Coke, Fanta Orange, Sprite, Dr Pepper and Ribena squash.
"The Government and the food industry continue to assure us that all food additives are safe for us to eat, but here we have clear medical guidelines which state that over a dozen common additives should carry a health warning," a spokesperson for the Food Commission said. "For many people the additives appear to pose no immediate risk, but better labelling would ensure that susceptible adults and children would at least have a chance of identifying, and avoiding, the additives that may cause them harm."
When contacted by just-drinks today, the British Soft Drinks Association said it agreed with the position taken by the Food and Drink Federation.
"Additives may only be used if they have been specifically approved, and the level of use permitted is strictly regulated," the FDF said yesterday.
"The use of additives in all foods is strictly controlled throughout Europe and kept under constant review. In the UK, intake of all additives is carefully monitored by the FSA (Food Standards Agency) to ensure that usage and intake remain within safe limits."
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