EFSA is in the midst of a major review of the safety data of all food additives, with a view to establishing a positive list under the new food additives regulation.
Colours have been given the priority treatment – and it has fast-tracked the six colours involved in the Southampton study, which saw a link with hyperactivity in children: Tartrazine (E102), Quinoline Yellow (E104), Sunset Yellow (E110), Carmoisine (E122), Ponceau 4R (E124) and Allura Red (E129).
A spokesperson told FoodNavigator.com that a deadline has now been agreed for the six Southampton colours. Following Allura Red, which is being reviewed first because the investigation is at a more advanced state, the other five will go before the panel in mid 2009.
In its review of the Southampton study itself, EFSA deemed there to be no grounds for altering the ADI of any of the colours. This was largely due to the fact the colours were mixed and it was not possible to ascribe their effect to any one in particular.
However EFSA did note in its opinion that it would be conducting a thorough review, taking in more evidence on the six colours aside from the Southampton data.
To date, only one opinion has been issued, for Red 2G (E128), in July – that the dye is a carcinogen. Consequently, its use has been banned.
Red 2G is understood to have been fast-tracked through the process as there were early indications of potential problems. It was one of the first food additives to be approved under European legislation, and an ADI (accepted daily intake) of 20mg/kg had been granted in 1981 for its use in certain meat products.
No indication has been given of when the reviews for the other 45 or so colours not involved in the Southampton study will be completed.
However EFSA is working on the basis of pre-evaluations by the working group on food additives, to determine whether each individual additive should be subject to a full or partial reevaluation.