E-numbers 'can do psychological harm to children'

The food watchdog was accused yesterday of "chickening out" of tough action on additives.

In the face of unequivocal evidence of the potential harm to children, delivered in person by an eminent university researcher, the Food Standards Agency fudged a decision on what to do next.

Professor Jim Stevenson, author of a breakthrough study on additives, told the FSA board yesterday that additives used in thousands of sweets, cakes and processed foods "damage the psychological health of children".

His research at Southampton University found that healthy children become hyperactive after consuming a mix of artificial colours and preservatives. He made it clear that the evidence is strong enough to justify a ban under European law, which requires a country to show that a food product constitutes "a serious or imminent risk to human health".

Asked if the evidence shows a serious risk to human health, Professor Stevenson said: "I think in terms of psychological health it does. We know that hyperactivity in a young child is a risk factor for, for example, later difficulties in school. Certainly it is associated with difficulties in learning to read. It is also associated with wider behavioural difficulties in middle childhood, such as conduct disorder. "

"I feel that the effects we are seeing here are sufficiently great to represent a threat to health."

Source Daily Mail

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