Southampton study causing supplements rethink

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags E number European food safety authority

Food supplements manufacturers may have to reformulate thousands of
products aimed at both children and adults if calls for bans on the
use of certain artificial colours become reality.

Bayer Healthcare-owned Sanatogen in the UK issued a statement saying it was monitoring the situation after the UK daily newspaper, The Independent, highlighted the fact its best-selling multivitamin, Sanatogen Gold, contained the artificial colours sunset yellow (E110) and quinoline yellow (E104).

The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) has recommended a European Union ban on these additives by the end of 2009, along with carmoisine (E122), allura red (E129), tartrazine (E102) and ponceau 4R (E124) after a €930,000 University of Southampton study found links with hyperactivity in children.

Not for kids The Independent story, published yesterday, also noted that Sanatogen's Kids A To Z Strawberry Flavour vitamins contained poncea 4R but a Bayer spokesperson told this product had been discontinued in 2007 and reformulated with the offending colour removed.

He said Bayer was aware of the hyperactivity links as well as links to skin disorders such as eczema and had altered its formulation policy accordingly. "

All of Bayer's current children's vitamin products are free from the additives that were tested in the research," the company said, adding, "Sanatogen Gold A to Z, a multivitamin and mineral marketed for adults, contains only colourings permitted for use in food in the UK and the European Union."

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is also reviewing its position in regard to artificial colours but said the results were inconclusive and did not warrant altering acceptable daily intakes of additives.

Three of the ingredients - quinine yellow, carmoisine and ponceau 4R - are banned by the US Food and Drug Administration.

More study required David Pineda, the director of regulatory affairs at the Brussels-based International Alliance of Dietary/Food Supplement Associations (IADSA), said industry was aware of the controversy surrounding the use artificial colours in food but said more evidence was required.

"We are assessing the opinions," he said.

"While the Southampton study suggested links to hyperactivity in children, EFSA concluded that the study provided limited evidence and that the study's findings could not be used as a basis for altering the acceptable daily intake (ADI) of the respective food colours."

He said an imminent Codex Alimentrius meeting was due to discuss artificial colours with a view to adopting a preliminary rule on their use in food supplements.

Codex is the arm of the World Health Organization that investigates and recommends international food standards and regulations.

Pineda said replacing artificial colours with natural versions carried both formulation and health implications.

"It is incorrect to assume there are no safety implications with natural colours and obviously changing ingredients can be a costly and timely process."

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