Food colourings studies – Handle with care!

So, food colourants cause hyperactivity in children. Or do they? Today’s news about the food colourants study undertaken at the University of Southampton in the UK highlights just how carefully studies need to be designed and how even more care needs to be taken in interpreting the results.

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Don’t you know there’s a war on?

Aspartame1‘s back in the news. The data we’ve been waiting for since I was last moved to post on this deceptively sweet little dipeptide has been published.

The European Ramazzini Foundation of Oncology and Environmental Sciences in Italy published their latest findings in the journal European Health Perspectives. ‘Lifespan exposure to low doses of aspartame beginning during prenatal life increases cancer effects in rats’, by Soffritti and colleagues, reports that when exposed to either 400 or 2000ppm of the sweetener from day 12 of foetal life, and for the rest of their natural lives, rats’ propensity towards certain cancers is increased in general, especially mammary tumours in females and lymphomas/leukemias in both sexes. This increase was especially significant when the dose was 2000ppm, a dose roughly equivalent to the acceptable daily intake for humans. The effects were dose dependent.

While the FDA has been reported as viewing this latest data as ‘no reason to review its opinion is safe as a general purpose sweetener in foods’, although it has not yet conducted a thorough review of the new data; and EFSA has not yet issued an opinion, the US consumer group; the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) immediately issued its support for the Ramazzi Foundation’s conclusion that ‘a review of the current regulations governing the use of aspartame cannot be delayed’, particularly in products that are heavily consumed by children.

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