Food is coloured to make it more attractive. Some think this is unnecessary and misleading. Others like their yoghurt to look pinker or their drinks more orange.
These conflicting views have led to a worldwide review of colourings in food.
The Food Standards Agency is contributing to this at the Codex Committee on Food Additives and Contaminants. Codex is a global organisation which develops international food quality and safety standards. To help us we have consumer representation in the Agency's team at meetings of this United Nations committee – the first national delegation to do this.
Some food colourings are natural in origin. For example, curcumin (E100) is a yellow extract of turmeric roots.
Others are artificial – most people have heard of tartrazine (E102) because it has been linked with some adverse reactions.
The Food Standards Agency carries out work on colours:
- to ensure that their presence in food does not compromise food safety
- to help our input to an international debate about the use of colourings in food
UK controls on colourings in food stem from EU Directives. The Agency is helping to review these controls, for example by carrying out surveillance work.
This checks how colours are actually being used in our food. Where problems are found, action is taken.
The use of colours in food is controlled in this country by the Colours in Food Regulations 1995 (SI 1995 No. 3124).
Please contact the Stationery Office for copies of these regulations. From 2000, separate regulations are made in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
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