Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The British Response to The McCann Study

(Second of four parts)
In Britain, the public response to the McCann Study (released in September 2007) was loud and clear. Consumers did not approve of the petroleum-based artificial colors, and their voices were heard.

The Food Standards Agency (the British equivalent of the FDA) called on food companies to voluntarily remove—by the end of 2009—the six synthetic dyes (three yellow and three red) and the preservative sodium benzoate that the McCann Study linked to “increased hyperactivity” among 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children. Many manufacturers have already complied.

In addition, several British supermarkets (i.e. Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Sainsbury’s) had already begun removing—to varying degrees—some or all synthetic dyes and additives from their house brands.

According to Sainsbury’s website, “In June 2007 we successfully re-launched our complete range of over 120 own-brand soft drinks. This marked the completion of our work to remove unnecessary artificial additives from all of our food and drink. The re-launched range has no artificial colours or flavourings and no benzoate preservatives or artificial sweeteners (except sucralose).”

More widespread, the European Parliament passed legislation in July 2008 that requires warning labels on foods that contain the six synthetic dyes. The label reads: “May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.” (Manufacturers have eighteen months to comply.)

Many food companies have replaced the synthetic colorants with natural alternatives. Eye-opening is the fact that several American companies will sell a product in Britain with natural dyes, but offer it in the United States with artificial colors.

For example, Kellogg’s American Nutri-Grain Cereal Bars contain Red 40 and Blue 1, while the British versions use beet root juice, annatto and paprika extract. A McDonald’s strawberry sundae in the United States is colored with Red 40; in Britain, real strawberries do the job.

(Tomorrow: The response in the United States)

1 comment:

Melanie U. said...

We good start a petition...