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UK: European Commission scales back colouring limit

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The European Commission has scaled back plans to restrict the use of the colouring Sunset Yellow.

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A proposal to set a lower limit of 10mg per litre from 50mg on Sunset Yellow was presented for vote at a Standing Committee in September. However, on Friday (9 September), member states voted to reduce the level to just 20mg.

The vote followed a report by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) last year, which found that exposure to the additive could be too high, particularly among UK children. As a result, the Commission introduced EU-wide, mandatory warning labels on food and drink containing any one of six colourings named in a University of Southampton study in 2007, which found that the colours, Sunset Yellow, Quinoline Yellow and Ponceau4R, were linked to an increased risk of hyperactivity in children.

A spokesperson for the Commission told just-drinks today: "The Commission considers it appropriate to reduce the current conditions of use and use levels, in several food categories, to ensure that the use of the food colours is safe in particular for children."

The legislation is expected to be implemented by the end of the year, but manufacturers will have until June 2013 to make any necessary changes to their products.

While many firms have already replaced the colourings in their products, AG Barr still uses Sunset Yellow and Ponceau 4R in its flagship Irn-Bru soft drink, and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) continues to use Sunset Yellow in its Lucozade Energy Original drink.


Sectors: Soft drinks, Water

Companies: AG Barr

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