Europe's food safety authority has called for data on food colours as part of a systematic re-evaluation of all authorised food additives in the EU.
The EC has asked EFSA to carry out this work in the interests of consumer protection, and to take into account any new information since the original assessments were.
Top priority has been given to colours, as requested by the Commission, because these were among the first additives to be evaluated under European legislation.
"Several new studies have become available since the original assessments were done,"said EFSA in a statement.
"Within this framework some 45 colours are to be re-assessed by EFSAs AFC Panel during the next months."
EFSA is looking to gather for these colours safety data that was not considered in the original assessments, information on uses in foods and information on the purity of colours and production methods.
The food safety authority said that the call for data is aimed at all parties holding important information that should be included in the re-evaluations. In addition to the national food safety authorities, EFSA is appealing to manufacturers and other stakeholders.
"To ensure a high level of consumer protection, all authorised food additives in the EU have been evaluated for their safety," said EFSA.
"European legislation on food additives requires that these substances be re-evaluated where necessary in the light of new scientific information and changing conditions of use."
EFSA plans to provide scientific advice on colours from early 2007.
Community legislation on food additives consists of a framework Directive and three specific Directives (on colours, sweeteners and other food additives). It is based on the principle that only those additives that are explicitly authorised may be used.
Prior to their authorisation, new food additives are evaluated for their safety by EFSA.