Last updated on 22 July 2010

Compulsory warnings on colours in food and drink

colours in bowl

An EU-wide health warning must now be put on any food or drink that still contains the colours that are thought to cause hyperactivity in some children. This is following the Southampton Study, commissioned by the Agency, which suggested a possible link between consumption of six food colours and hyperactivity in children.

The colours are Tartrazine (E102), Quinoline Yellow (E104), Sunset Yellow (E110), Carmoisine (E122), Ponceau 4R (E124) and Allura Red (E129).

Any food and drink containing any of the six colours, except drinks with more than 1.2% alcohol, will now have to provide a warning on the label that the colour ‘may have effects on activity and attention in children’. This becomes mandatory across the EU from 20 July 2010. Food and drink produced before 20 July 2010 can continue to be marketed, so it may take time for newly labelled products to appear on some store shelves.

Over the past few years, the Agency has worked with the UK food industry to voluntarily remove the six colours from food and drink, and make this information available to consumers. But the new mandatory warning will make it easier for people to choose products that are free from these colours.