Stores Ban Food Additives in the UK

The Europeans have stepped up to the plate, once again, with responsible scientific studies and legislation concerning the dangers of chemical food additives. It may not be a perfect, public ruling, but the Europeans show more concern for the consumer than we, on our side of the pond, do. When it comes to the dangers of artificial sweeteners and food additives, the United States is falling way behind on respectable scientific research and public concern.

Greed, mostly Western, has powered a runaway train of food chemical madness in the world. Fortunately, European scientists not controlled by massive food processing, fast food chains, and mega-pharmaceutical conglomerates, are aware that the addition of food chemicals, GMO (genetically modified) foods, GE (genetically engineered) seeds, fake fats and artificial sugars are making people sick and fat - especially children. They are ready to stop this train.

The United States continues to discredit food research from Europe, research proving aspartame, GMO foods, artificial colorings and preservatives are harmful to human health. But most other countries are not so willing to risk their health and safety, and the health of their children.

We need to pay more attention to what's going on in the countries that are now experiencing new disease syndromes, and witnessing a generation of children becoming stressed, hyperactive, fat and ill - all since the introduction of diet chemical sweeteners and toxic food additives.

The good news: a new EU (European Union) study has now tied chemical food additives to child behavior problems. And they are doing something positive about it!

A study funded by the EU Food Standards Agency (FSA) has drawn a link between temper tantrums, poor concentration, and allergic reactions such as asthma and rashes, to chemical food additives. The findings are likely to shake up the entire food industry, which will now face the need to reformulate a vast array of children's products.

Vyvyan Howard, professor of bio-imaging at Ulster University and an adviser to the FSA, called on parents and manufacturers to protect children. He states: "It is biologically plausible that they (food chemicals) could be having an effect. Parents can protect their children by avoiding foods containing the additives. I personally do not feed these sorts of foods to my 15-month-old daughter."

He called on manufacturers and supermarkets to remove the additives on a precautionary basis.

"It is the right thing to do to remove these additives from children's foods. They have no nutritional value, so why put them in? There are very tight restrictions banning these additives from foods designed for children under the age of one. But why stop there? Children's brains and nervous systems are developing beyond the age of one."

Some leading UK food companies and grocery stores have already responded. Smarties has dropped products with artificial colors, particularly eliminating the blue variety from their shelves.

Marks & Spencer has implemented similar moves to clean the food chemicals off their shelves. Sainsbury's, Britain's third largest supermarket, is set to remove artificial flavors and colors, as well as aspartame from its private label soft drinks. New drink formulas will be on their shelves in June, as the demand for more natural soft drink ingredients is now entering the mainstream-soft-drink sector in the UK. Sainsbury's stated it will use natural colors and fruit and vegetable extracts as coloring agents in bottled drinks. Where flavorings are used, they will be from fruits and other natural sources.

Fortunately, the British markets have ditched the artificial sweetener aspartame, but unfortunately, in favor of diet products with sucralose. In, time, my hope is this newest chemical sweetener will also be banned due to the toxic effects of the chlorine that comprises 3/4 of the sucralose molecule.

This civic move on the part of British supermarkets reflects the growing consumer demand for natural ingredients, particularly in soft drinks. "It's the result of extensive research among our customers revealing just how welcome this development would be, especially amongst parents," said Cathy Port, Sainsbury's category manager for soft drinks.

Many parents in the UK and Europe have become increasingly concerned about the effects of artificial ingredients on their children's health and development. Natural ingredients are becoming a trend likely to play a greater role in soft drink formulas over the next few years. Food and drink products free from artificial flavors, colors and preservatives will set themselves apart from the toxic food additives at the root of so many modern health issues.

Some of the research responsible for proving the dangers of food chemicals was conducted by a team from Southampton University, and confirms earlier studies suggesting food additives cause unhealthy reactions, both individually and as a chemical blend.

The chemical food colors tartrazine (E102), ponceau 4R (E124), sunset yellow (E110), carmoisine (E122), quinoline yellow (E104) and allura red AC (E129) were tested on groups of 3-year olds and 8-to-9 year olds. The team also looked at the health effects of the preservative sodium benzoate (E211), which is commonly used in soft drinks.

The test results are currently being peer reviewed and will then be published, but the results were shown to be similar to earlier findings, published in 2004. The original research was performed on the Isle of Wight. Three-year-old children were given fruit drinks laced with colorings and additives. Parents reported a change in their behavior after the youngsters were fed the additives.

The original findings were questioned because the results relied on anecdotal reports from the parents, and the young age of the children made it difficult to chart behavior in a scientific manner.

Because of these uncertainties, the second research study was commissioned, following the advice of the expert committee, which included Professor Howard.

The reactions of the children in the study were documented as experiencing mood swings, crying, screaming, and the inability to sleep. They also recorded physical reactions to the food chemicals, such as difficulty in breathing and skin rashes.

In the countries that historically do not use food additives (such as aspartame, MSG, and food colorings) recent reactions to these chemicals are considered a tangible, observable behavioral difference and a direct cause and effect to the use of additives. To ignore these behavioral changes and allow the continued presence of food chemicals in the children's food supply can be compared to conducting a long-term experiment on the children's health.

If there is one sliver of doubt that food chemicals are harming human health, especially children's health, these chemicals should be removed without hesitation. If countries are serious about improving their children's nutrition, the ban on artificial food additives must become a priority. At the very least, there should be a WARNING on products containing these chemicals, that they are dangerous to human health.

The food and drink corporations defend the right to market food chemical additives under the umbrella that the use of food additives are strictly regulated under the law. Food additives such as aspartame and sucralose must be approved as safe before they can be put on the market. Even though they claim that consumers' intake of food additives is also closely monitored by government health agencies, when research studies such as the study from Southampton University, are presented, many times they are discounted as anecdotal. When will the consumer be taken seriously?

When sales go down, the manufacturers will stop making money from these dangerous chemicals! Thank you to UK's Smarties, Sainsbury's, and Marks & Spencer for making the appropriate moves to hit 'em in the pocketbook. Once the corporations stop making profits off unhealthy food chemicals, let's hope they will return to the use of natural ingredients for the sake of our children.

Posted June 2007 | Permanent Link

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