FSA proposes new Sunset Yellow food colour standards

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

The UK's Food Standards Agency is seeking views and comments on
proposed amendments to European colour regulations covering Sunset
Yellow FCF (E 110) and Titanium Dioxide (E 171).

The key proposals include the amendment of the specification for Sunset Yellow FCF (E 110) to include a new limit for Sudan I of 0.5 mg/kg, as requested by the UK delegation at the European Commissions Food Additives Working Group meeting in Brussels on 21 November 2005.

Sudan I is an illegal colour and a genotoxic carcinogen, which may be formed under certain circumstances as an impurity during the production of Sunset Yellow.

The permitted level of lead in Sunset Yellow has been reduced from 10 mg/kg to 2 mg/kg in line with the FAO/WHO Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) specifications.

The specification for Titanium Dioxide (E 171) has been amended to permit the use of rutile titanium dioxide as well as the presently permitted anatase form, in line with the opinion of the European Food Safety Authoritys Scientific Panel on Food Additives, adopted on 7 December 2004.

The Colours in Food Regulations 1995 have been amended three times (in 2000, 2001 and 2005) to implement Commission Directives 1999/75/EC, 2001/50/EC and 2004/47/EC. The draft Colours in Food (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2006, currently under proposal, will implement the provisions of Directive 2006/33/EC in England.

Member States are required to implement the provisions of Directive 2006/33/EC into national legislation by 10 April 2007 and to prohibit products that do not comply with the Directive by this date. The FSA says that it would like to implement the legislation as soon as possible in order to ensure the protection of human health and the interests of consumers (sunset yellow specification), whilst taking account of new scientific and technological developments in food additive usage (titanium dioxide specification).

It is planned that the new regulations will come into force in England on the common commencement date of 1 October 2006.

All comments and views should be sent to clifford.gedling@foodstandards.gsi.gov.uk by 11 August 2006.

Confronted by growing consumer demand for natural and healthy foodstuffs, food makers have increasingly been looking for alternatives to artificial food colours such as Sunset Yellow, Tartrazine and Quinoline Yellow.

In July last year, for example, the UK's Co-op chain banned these three legal colours, along with nine others, in direct response to [consumer] concerns​. Indeed, to date the food retailer has banned 21 colours, replacing them with naturally derived colourings.

Market figures confirm the trend. While the European colouring market faces an annual growth rate of just 1 per cent between 2001 and 2008, the colouring foodstuffs market is ripping ahead on growth of 10 per cent to 15 per cent.

Related topics: Policy, Flavours and colours

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