Parents warned over food additives

Parents have been advised to limit the number of food additives their children consume until the publication of a new study into the ingredients and behavioural problems.

Researchers from Southampton University analysed combinations of synthetic colourings and preservatives ('E-numbers') to assess their effect on children's behaviour.

Although not due to be published for a number of months, the findings are reportedly expected to warn that a number of negative effects are caused by food additives.

A source at the university told the industry magazine the Grocer last week that their results support findings published seven years ago which linked additives to problems such as temper tantrums, hyperactivity and poor attention.

According to the Guardian newspaper, the Food Standards Agency (FSA), which the study was conducted for, has seen the report's findings and noted their "public health importance" but the findings will not be made public until they are published in a scientific journal.

Until then the FSA and researchers will not discuss the project.

Vyvyan Howard, professor of bio-imaging at Ulster University and one of the experts on FSA's additives and behaviour working group, told the Guardian: "It is biologically plausible that there could be an effect from these additives.

"While you are waiting for the results to come out you can choose not to expose your children to these substances. These compounds have no nutritional value and I personally do not feed these sorts of foods to my 15-month-old daughter."

Dr Alex Richardson, director of food and behaviour research and senior research scientist at Oxford University, added: "In my view the researchers had done an excellent piece of work first time round and there was enough evidence to act.

"If this new study essentially replicates that, what more evidence do they need to remove these additives from children's food and drink?"

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