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Synthetic food dyes raise alarm

Consumer groups are concerned that Switzerland, unlike the European Union, has decided not to print warnings on sweets and soft drinks containing so-called azo dyes.

This content was published on July 20, 2010 - 10:58

From Tuesday, sweets and soft drinks containing azo dyes – which account for more than half of all dyes used in food and textile manufacture – will be sold with a warning in the EU, as they are thought to contribute to hyperactivity among children.

In the EU, products containing azo colouring or quinoline yellow must now have the following warning: “May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children".

A market study, led by a consumer association from French-speaking Switzerland, showed that 19 out of 55 products targeted at children contained azo dye or quinoline yellow, which is also thought to trigger allergies and hyperactivity in children.

The study was conducted in retail chains such as Coop, Migros, Denner and Aldi and in newspaper kiosks.

None of the products containing the chemicals showed any warning. The food organisations believe a ban would be sensible.

The organisations warn to look out for azo dyes which have the following names and E numbers: sunset yellow (E110), quinoline yellow (E104), carmoisine (E122), allura red (E129), tartrazine (E102), and Ponceau 4R (E124).

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