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Southport Reporter

Edition No. 70

Date:- 18 October 2002

Hidden Dangers.
By Dominic Bonner.

Food is a topic that we all enjoy talking about. More to the point, the real fun lies in eating. It is seldom our thoughts carry forward to what is in our gastronomic delights other than its basic content - much less the hidden amount of food colourings and the cocktail of additives that we eat each day.

Current scientific evidence according to the Feingold report in 1977 suggests that many things like crime, psychosis and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) could simply be a problem with what is in our diet. Yet so few of us actually know what is in our food regarding additives.

Indeed additives have divisions of three categories - cosmetics, preservatives and processing aids. There four thousand in all. Many additives and colourants, also known as azo dyes, produce allergic reactions. Forty-four colourants described in scientific literature as harmful to children and adults alike. Only 88 of all additives are safe for human consumption worldwide according to scientists. Compelling evidence suggests that these colourants alter our behaviour. Which begs the question, what are we eating?

Emphasis on food concerning nut allergies and more recently chicken nuggets in a recent documentary shown on television a few weeks ago. Hardly a thing we would expect of Jamie Oliver. Yet high street aspects of food health are further strengthening attitudes toward food hysteria, putting it under the moral microscope. 

We consume a mixture 60 different additives and colourants every time we eat. Yet some 200,000 tonnes of additives and colourants per annum, produced for foods in the industry, accounting for 75% of the western diet. Of which we consume eight and a half pounds per person in this country. In some cases more. This serves only to add fuel to the flame regarding Attention Deficit Hyperactive disorder and the Hyperactive Children's Support Group (HGSC).

It would seem that nothing we eat can be deemed as 'additive free'. Ranging from carcinogenics to mutagens. Foods such as baked beans, peas, vegetable soup, jam, spaghetti, crisps, soft drinks for example orangeade, and confectionaries contain these hidden snares of chemical compounds. 

The main ingredient Tartrazine(E102), seemingly the culprit colourant contained in some of these foods. Even beer and wine do not escape the claws of colourants and additives. As they contain extracts of caramel. Nevertheless, why do we need to consume additives?

The food industry accounts for itself by saying that they improve flavour and increase shelf life. They heighten food colour and make them visually more appealing. Moreover, additives such as turmeric and riboflavin are actually good for you. As turmeric (E100) has anti-cancer agents, conversely riboflavin regulates thyroid activity. 

The argument for pro-additive ingredients turns on its head. When known additives and colorants cause behavioral problems, diabetes, hyperactivity and eczema. Colourants such as

This week, we examined high street supermarkets in search for additives or colourants. Specifically known to be harmful to children and adults and banned worldwide apart from the United Kingdom.

Surprisingly, they fared well with Sainsbury's proving to be the best with 98% of its products being additive free. Few products in stores contained products with harmful additives. The hysteria concerning genetically modified food has done the retail food industry some good - Especially in light of the crest of the wave concerning the organic food market trends at present. However, all of those found were associated with colourants producing symptoms of ADHD. 

Confusingly, it seems there is no legal statute to provide information of additive ingredients in this country. Unlike European law that stipulates that, all additive E numbers and information concerning food must be product stated on the label. 

A fact we found also to the detriment of all the supermarkets we looked at - including Sainsbury's. Many of the products simply listed additive names with no E value. Further confounding consumer ideals of what food is safe - And hampers high street shops in their self-regulatory approach to food product awareness.

The Governments colours in food regulations 2000 do nothing to change the way we label our food. Indeed, it would appear that the British government has overlooked certain food potentially poisonous colourings. In particular, examples of additives banned worldwide are E128 Red 2g and E104 quinaline yellow. Ironically, it seems not to have gained too much attention from ministers in England who seem not to be heeding such warnings.

A point that the HGSC is keen to make with Feingold's study as an example of how change could be made with a dietary approach of eliminating additives in children's diets. They cite problems of violent behavior in adults and children due to the inclusion of additives in food.  Future health risks are also a reason for taking a hard look the colours in food regulations amendment and the Food labeling Regulations 1996.

Current attitudes to violent behavior among government officials point the blame elsewhere - via the media or violent films. But this could be nothing further from the truth. It is clear that food additives within our food have damaging effects on our children.  The gigantic rise of Ritalin prescriptions in America and this country only bolsters the argument against the use of some food additives. 

However, it can only be a matter of time before colourings and additives in food will be of public concern. And only then will we see a true change in our approach to food.

Further information about food additives and health is available at Or www.thestudentzone.

Contact for the hyperactive children's support group (013903725182) or visit their website at 

Southport Reporter is Trade Mark of Patrick Trollope.   Copyright © Patrick Trollope 2002.