Additives blamed for children's tantrums
Last updated at 09:50am on 8th May 2007
Join the debate » Parents have been advised by food safety experts to omit several additives from their children's diets, with new research set to confirm a link between the ingredients and behavioural problems.
The study, conducted by Southampton University for the Food Standards Agency, has analysed the effects of a number of preservatives and colourings found in sweets, drinks and processed foods commonly consumed by children. It is thought to have concluded a definite link between the additives and problems such as temper tantrums and hyperactivity.
Although the findings are not due to be released until much later this year, the results have been viewed and considered by the FSA's Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food which officially noted "the public health importance of the findings" which are thought to have been consistent with a similar study in 2000 disputed by the committee.
The first trial, known as the Isle of Wight study, concluded that " significant changes in children's behaviour could be produced by the removal of colourings and additives from their diet and benefit would accrue for all children from such a change."
The committee, however, declared in 2002 that the study was inconclusive.
The FSA then set up the further study to provide conclusive evidence, with a working group of independent experts. The experts have advised consumers to consider removing these additives from children's diets immediately.
The colours, tested on both threeyearolds and eight- to nine-year olds, are tartrazine (E102), ponceau 4R (E124), sunset yellow (E110), carmoisine (E122), quinoline yellow (E104) and allura red AC (E129). The preservative tested was sodium benzoate (E211).
While these additives are widely used in Britain and approved by the EU, some are banned in Scandinavian countries and in the US.
Vyvyan Howard, professor of bioimaging at Ulster University and an expert on the FSA's additives and behaviour working group, said: "It is biologically plausible that there could be an effect from these additives. While you are waiting for the results to come out you can choose not to expose your children to these substances. These compounds have no nutritonal value and I personally do not feed these sorts of foods to my 15-month-old daughter."