E number warning

Concerns about the use of E numbers in foodstuffs has been raised again with the experts warning that children shouldn’t be exposed to these potentially harmful substances.
They claim that the additives could lead to behavioural problems such as hyperactivity and poor concentration
A team at the University of Southampton tested the additives tartraxine (E102), ponceau 4R (E124), sunset yellow (E110), carmoisine (E122), quinoline yellow (E104) and allura red AC (E129) on both three-year olds and eight-to-nine year olds.
According to the BBC, a University source said that their results supported findings first made seven years ago that linked the additives to behavioural problems such as temper tantrums, poor concentration, hyperactivity and allergic reactions.
So the precautionary advice seems fair enough – but what are these additives used for?
In my search for more information I’ve discovered that many of these substances are already banned overseas.
Here’s a quick guide from the very useful UK Food Guide;
E102; A synthetic yellow azo dye found in fruit squash, fruit cordial, coloured fizzy drinks, instant puddings, cake mixes, custard powder, soups, sauces, ice cream, ice lollies, sweets, chewing gum, marzipan, jam, jelly, marmalade, mustard, yoghurt and many convenience foods together with glycerine, lemon and honey products.
E124 ; A red synthetic coal tar or azo dye found in dessert toppings, jelly, salami, seafood dressings, tinned strawberries and fruit pie fillings and packeted cake mixes, cheesecakes, soups and trifles.
E110 ; A synthetic ‘coal tar’ and azo yellow dye used in fermented foods which must be heat treated. Found in orange squash, orange jelly, marzipan, Swiss roll, apricot jam, citrus marmalade, lemon curd, sweets, hot chocolate mix and packet soups, breadcrumbs, cheese sauce, ice cream, canned fish, and many medications.
E122 ; A synthetic red azo dye used in foods which must be heat treated after fermentation. Also found in blancmange, marzipan, Swiss roll, jams and preserves, sweets, brown sauce, flavoured yogurts, packet soups, jellies, breadcrumbs and cheesecake mixes.
E104; A synthetic ‘coal tar’ dye varying in colour between a dull yellow and greenish-yellow. Found in ices, scotch eggs and smoked haddock. FD&C Yellow No.10; used in lipsticks hair products, colognes; also in a wide range of medications; may cause dermatitis.
E129 ; Orange-red colour used in sweets, drinks and condiments, medications and cosmetics, A red synthetic azo dye introduced in the early eighties to replace Amaranth, E123, in the United States of America where E123 is prohibited.
This site also produces a very handy list of children’s products which contain E numbers.
After reading this site’s findings, I don’t think it’s just the kids who need to worry – how about some research on the long-term effects of these substances? After all, if we start ingesting them at three-years-old, what happens to us as adults?


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