EFSA view on Southampton six imminent

By Nick Hughes

- Last updated on GMT

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A verdict on the safety of the ‘Southampton six’ food colours is imminent after the EFSA confirmed its food additives panel is scheduled to discuss the review findings later this month.

A spokesman said that should the panel adopt any opinions from the review process, the views will be published in mid-October following the meeting, which is due to take place between 22-24 September.

The six colours: Tartrazine (E102), Quinoline Yellow (E104), Sunset Yellow (E110), Carmoisine (E122), Ponceau 4R (E124) and Allura Red (E129) have been fast tracked to the front of the queue for evaluation after the Southampton Study found possible links with hyperactivity in children.

The verdict of the panel will be put to the European Commission to feed into its broader review of food colourings used in the EU.

“We’re unsure if any opinions on any of the colours will be adopted but if so we wouldn’t be looking to publish until October,”​ said the EFSA spokesman.

The food additives panel met in January to review the safety of Allura Red but failed to reach a conclusive verdict. Allura Red will now be discussed along with the other five colours at the September meeting.

In its review of the Southampton study itself, EFSA found little evidence to link them with adverse effects on children's health or behaviour. This was largely due to the fact the colours were mixed and it was not possible to ascribe their effect to any one colour in particular.

The latest review, however, will take into account additional evidence on the six colours aside from the Southampton data.

Reviews into the 39 or so colours not involved in the Southampton study are ongoing, according to the spokesman, with reviews of a number of Azo dyes due to be completed in March 2010.

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.

This article has been updated to reflect the fact that results will only be published in October should any of the panel's opinions be adopted.

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