GSK continues search for colouring change

GSK continues search for colouring change

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has said it aims to meet guidelines set by the UK's food safety body by removing a colouring linked to hyperactivity in children from its flagship Lucozade Energy drink.

The colouring - sunset yellow – is one of six linked to hyperactivity in children in a study commissioned by the UK's Food Standards Agency (FSA) and published in 2007. The FSA subsequently called for the colourings to be removed from food and drink.

GSK told just-drinks today (3 March) that it has been working to reformulate Lucozade Energy Original “for some time”, but that it had not yet been successful in removing sunset yellow.

“The issue of food colourants rose to the top of the agenda following the publication of the Southampton Study in 2007, which reported that combining certain food additives with the preservative sodium benzoate may increase hyperactivity in some children, and since then we have been exploring alternatives,” the firm said.

“We are in close contact with the UK FSA about our reformulation efforts and are making significant progress. Due to technical difficulties, however, we have not yet been able to remove Sunset Yellow, although our efforts continue.”

GSK added that its Lucozade Energy “is not designed for or marketed towards children under 16”, but that it had placed a label on pack, in line with legislative requirements, stating: “Sunset Yellow may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children", while it continues to reformulate.

Yvette Murphy, spokesperson for GSK, told just-drinks: “Sunset yellow is present in Lucozade energy and we are working to remove it, but the link has not been proven, it’s really important to know that.

“Technically it’s difficult thing to do to replace the colouring for all kinds of reasons, colour, flavour and of course you also need to bear in mind that we want to keep the characteristics our consumers know and love and we are working to do that.”

In January, soft drinks group AG Barr bowed to pressure from regulatory authorities and agreed to remove two colourings from its flagship Irn-Bru drink - sunset yellow and ponceau 4R.

Government ministers and the FSA called for a voluntary ban on the use of the colourings in 2008.

Last month, GSK outlined a range of product launches and promotions planned for 2010.