Food Additives as Damaging as Lead

British Researchers Find Artificial Colors Harm Children’s Brains, Request Phase-Out

By Annie Bell Muzaurieta

A team of British researchers from Southampton University carried out a study to look at seven food additives, and their findings were grim: The additives are doing as much damage to children’s brains as the lead in gasoline.

According to an article in The Independent, the researchers said children’s intelligence was being damaged by the seven additives, also called E-numbers, which are codes indicating permitted additives in the European Union. The additives included sunset yellow (E110) and tartrazine (E102), and researchers said they caused temper tantrums among normal children.

Officials at the Food Safety Agency (FSA) in Britain have requested their directors call for additives to be phased out of food products by the end of the year. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has said that while the limited evidence shows some damage to children, the agency said there wasn’t enough proof to change the safety standards.

One researcher involved wrote an 18-page rebuttal to the criticism of his study. The FSA will meet Thursday to decide what to advise ministers.

E-numbers have been linked to behavioral problems since the 1970s, according to the article, but the debate has been fueled since the publication of this study.