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HARMFUL ARTIFICIAL & NATURAL COLOURINGS

At least 15 colourings can provoke intolerant or allergic reactions in some people, producing asthma, migraine, eczema, urticaria (rashes) or hyperactivity. Certain colours have also produced questionable results in animal tests, such as thyroid and kidney damage. A child can consume between five and twenty different colourings during one meal. Yet colour additives have not been tested in the real-life cocktails in which we eat them.

Questionable and non-essential colours should be prohibited from foods commonly eaten by children, such as orange drinks, meat products, fish fingers, mayonnaise, ice cream, wafers. The table lists some of the colourings in use and the adverse effects that have been recorded.

Code Name Banned/Restricted in Side effects
102 Tartrazine
(Pesticide Active
ingredient USA)
Germany, Norway, Finland, Sweden
Heavily restricted in Austria
Provokes asthma, rashes, hyperactivity in sensitive people. Could adversely affect digestive enzymes.
110 Sunset Yellow Norway, Finland, Sweden Provokes asthma, rashes, hyperactivity. Affected Kidneys of rats. Could adversely affect digestive enzymes.
120 Cochineal
Potentially toxic to embryos, hypersensitivity.
122 (Azorubine) Carmoisine USA, Norway, Japan, Finland Provokes asthma, rashes, hyperactivity, in sensitive people.
Could adversely affect digestive enzymes.
123 Amaranth USA, Soviet Union, Norway, Finland
Heavily restricted in European Union (1)
Provokes asthma, rashes, hyperactivity, in sensitive people. Caused cancer and gene damage in some laboratory tests. Could adversely affect digestive enzymes.
124 Ponceau 4R USA, Norway, Sweden, Canada Provokes asthma, rashes, hyperactivity in sensitive people. Damaged genes in laboratory tests. Found to inhibit EFA's.
127 Erythrosine (Pesticide Active ingredient USA) Norway, European Union (1), Australia May provoke asthma, rashes, hyperactivity in sensitive people. Caused thyroid damage/cancer in rats.
129 Allura Red AC Norway, Finland, Austria Provokes rashes in sensitive people.
132 Indigo Carmine Norway May provoke asthma, rashes, hyperactivity. Caused cancer and gene damage in some laboratory tests.
133 Brilliant Blue Norway, Austria, Switzerland Provokes rashes in sensitive people. Caused kidney tumours in animal tests.
142 Green S Norway, USA, Japan, Canada May Provoke asthma rashes and hyperactivity.
150 Caramels UK. Government report of 1979 said some people consumed more than the recommended safe dose. Some caramels reduce white blood cells in rats. May reduce vitamin B6.
151 Black PN USA, Japan, Norway, Sweden, Canada Provokes asthma, rashes, hyperactivity. High doses produce cysts in pigs. Could adversely affect digestive enzymes.
155 Brown HT USA, Norway, Switzerland, Austria, Japan Provokes asthma, rashes and hyperactivity in sensitive people.
160b Annatto Restricted in European Union (1) Provokes skin rashes in sensitive people. Safety tests inadequate.

(1). European Union: United Kingdom and other Common Market countries.

Source: London Food Commission, Food Adulteration and How to Beat It, Unwin 1988.


June 2003

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