Australian kids consuming “low levels of food colouring”, FSANZ reports

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 25th June 2012

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) today released a report that reassured Australian parents that their children are “consuming low levels of food colours”.

Steve McCutcheon, FSANZ Chief Executive Officer, said the report provided up-to-date data on colours in Australian foods that was consistent with previous findings from a 2008 food colours survey conducted by FSANZ. The 2008 survey was reported at the time in an article by Australian Food News.

The latest FSANZ report has found “an overall reduction in estimated dietary exposure to colours in the 2–16 year old age group compared to the previous survey,” according to Mr McCutcheon.

The estimated dietary exposure to Sunset Yellow for high consumers aged 13 – 16 years was 2.57mg per day. In 2008 the dietary exposure for high consumers for a similar age group (13 – 18 years) to Sunset Yellow was estimated to be 5.19mg per day.

“For each colour investigated, the estimated dietary exposure was less than 5% of the acceptable daily intake (ADI) in all cases,” Mr McCutcheon said.

The ADI is an internationally accepted estimate of the amount of a substance added to a food or drinking water that people can eat daily over a lifetime without harm.

“The report confirmed there was no public health and safety risk from consuming foods with added colours as part of a balanced diet. FSANZ recognises that some people prefer to avoid certain food colours. For this reason, food colours must be declared on the label,” Mr McCutcheon concluded.

Colour additives have been a hot issue amongst consumer and health advocacy groups in Australia and elsewhere. In response, many food processors have marketed their use of ‘natural’ ingredients (such as the use of natural colouring-food ingredients instead of artificial additives) and other technologies to enable a ‘clean label’ with fewer additives or additive numbers.

This has been an important issue for several years. Australian Food News reported as far back as September 2009 on the growth trends for natural food dyes.