‘Southampton’ colour Allura Red safe at current levels, EFSA finds

By Caroline SCOTT-THOMAS contact

- Last updated on GMT

None of the exposure estimates exceeded the ADI in any population, according to EFSA's assessment of the latest data
None of the exposure estimates exceeded the ADI in any population, according to EFSA's assessment of the latest data

Related tags: Food coloring, E number, European food safety authority

New exposure data for Allura Red (E129) food colouring suggest that current intakes are safe, according to a revised opinion from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

EFSA initiated the refined exposure assessment in 2013 after new data emerged on Allura Red, part of a group of food colourings known as sulphonated mono azo dyes. The last time it was assessed, in 2009, the food safety body noted that children aged 1-10 could exceed the acceptable daily intake (ADI) level of 7 mg per kg of bodyweight if they were among the highest consumers of foods containing the colouring.

This latest assessment was based on usage data from industry for six out of the 51 food categories in which the colour is authorised as a food additive, and analytical data from Member States for 35 food categories.

Using the new data, it found “none of the exposure estimates exceeded the ADI of 7 mg/kg bw per day in any population”.

The ‘Southampton Six’ colours made headlines in 2007 when a study published in The Lancet​ linked them with hyperactivity in children. After assessing the study, EFSA initially said there was no reason to change the ADI for any of the colours, largely because the combination of colours made it impossible to attribute effects to any substance in particular. However, EFSA later changed the ADI for three of the Southampton colours, for reasons unrelated to hyperactivity.

The refined exposure assessment is available online here​.

Related topics: Policy, Food safety, Flavours and colours

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