Friday, September 07, 2007

UK report - Food additives linked to ADHD

Reports in the British press on Thursday have linked food additives to hyperactivity in children. In a study, published in the Lancet, children given so called E numbers were found to react adversely. The results of those tests have prompted many to call for a ban on some food additives which have concerned food experts for many years. However the Food Standards Agency have resisted a ban, instead advising parents to avoid the chemicals if “a child shows signs of hyperactivity or ADHD [Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder]”. The chemicals under scrutiny include food colourings Sunset Yellow (E110), Tartrazine (E102), Carmoiosine (E122), Ponceau 4R (E124), Allura Red (E129), Quinoline Yellow (E104) and the food preservative Sodium Benzoate (E211). The findings were of no surprise to many parents, some of whom called radio stations to say they had observed adverse effects of food additives for many years. LBC radio in London received some calls from listeners calling for a wider ban. Aspartime and other artificial sweeteners are of particular concern for many. Others suggested the junk food diet, often loaded with a cocktail of food additives, might be a partial cause of the increased ‘yob culture’ sweeping the UK. There is of course no real evidence for this view. However, many of the chemical cited in the recent tests are banned in some European countries as well as the US and Australia. Tartrazine is banned in Norway and was banned in Austria and Germany before being lifted by an EC directive. Although intolerance to E102 is said to affect less than 1% of the population, reactions can include anxiety, migraines, clinical depression, blurred vision, itching, general weakness, heatwaves, feeling of suffocation, purple skin patches, and sleep disturbance. Sunset Yellow is particularly singled out as having links to increased ADHD but nowhere is the use in food restricted. E122 or Carmoisine is banned in Japan, Norway and the US, but is widely used in the UK. It again is strongly linked with ADHD. Poneau 4R or E124 has been identified as a carcinogen by the Food and Drug Administration in the US and like many of the above additives it has been suggested it may intensify symptoms of asthema. Besides the health concerns, it remains in wide use within the UK. E129 or Allura Red, is the most widley banned food colourant. It is illegal to add to food products in Denmark, Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, and Austria. It was also banned in Norway from 1978 until 2001, but this ban has since been lifted. E104, banned in Japan and the US, has been linked to ADHD and identified as a possible cause of contact dermatitus. It remains legal in the UK and in Australia since 2003 where it had previously been banned. Whilst E211 has no direct adverse health effects it may react with ascorbic acid [vitamin C] and release benzene, a known carcinogen. E211 or Sodium Benzoate is widely used as a preservative but can be found naturally in cranberries, prunes, greengage plums, cinnamon, ripe cloves, and apples. Whilst Aspartame, Saccharin and other artificial sweeteners have not been implicated in this recent study, there is a long running debate concerning their safety. The FSA which funded the three year study have rejected calls for a ban, besides the strong links with ADHD and other adverse health effects. It therefore remains a decission for the consumer whether or not they consume such products. There is no expectation that any form of health warning is to be printed on affected products, such as been seen on cigarettes for many years. Nut allergies and instances of children choking on peanuts, have resulted in many products declaring that a “product may contain nuts” and a warning that “small children may choke on nuts”. It may be argued that the consumer has a choice when making a decision to buy products containing additives. However, this becomes all the more difficult when eating at restaurants where food labeling is absent. Only a ban on possibly dangerous food additives would give consumers peace of mind [BBC]

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Warner Carter said...
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