A public safety campaign from the publishers of The Food Magazine
Action On Additives

Can these additives have other health affects?

All of the additives included in the study can have negative affects on susceptible people’s health. Under EC guidelines, medicines should carry a warning that the artificial colourings “may cause allergic reactions” and a warning that sodium benzoate may be “mildly irritant to the skin, eyes and mucous membranes”. Foods and drinks carry no such warning, despite been consumed in much greater quantities.

The FSA warns that eating foods or drinks containing tartrazine can cause nettle rash (urticaria), dermatitis (an allergic skin condition), asthma, or rhinitis (runny nose) in a very small number of people. The FSA also warns that sodium benzoate and other benzoates (E210, E211, E212, E213, E214, E215, E216, E217, E218 and E219) could make the symptoms of asthma and eczema worse in children who already have these conditions.

Artificial colourings are typically used to encourage children and adults to consume brightly coloured, highly processed food stuffs. Such foods tend to be high in calories but often have little other nutritional value. Artificial colourings may thus encourage the consumption of an unhealthy diet, which is linked to many health problems, such as obesity and coronary heart disease.

All of the additives are banned from foods and drinks for children under the age of three. However, medicines aimed at the same age group continue to use the additives.

Several of the additives are banned in the USA and other countries, but are permitted for use in the UK.


Sign up for more information

If you want to be kept informed about food additives, please enter your email address below and press 'add email'. Your email address will not be passed to any third parties or marketing agencies and will only be used by the Action on Additives campaign.



Support the campaign

The Action on Additives campaign is funded by grants and public donations, and coordinated by the not-for-profit campaign group The Food Commission. To support the campaign, please use the button below to make a secure donation. Thank you.

Seven suspect additives card

If you would like a handy Action on Additives plastic card, listing the seven suspect additives, please send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to the Action on Additives campaign, 94 White Lion Street, London N1 9PF. We can supply up to three free cards to any one address, so you can share the cards with your friends.

If you would like to purchase a larger number of the cards, please email Anna at anna@actiononadditives.com for details of cost.

You can also print a sheet of ten cards by clicking on the link below.
Print more cards

Do you work in the hospitality sector?

The Action on Additives campaign welcomes information from people working in restaurants, hotels or contract catering. If you can tell us more about the use of any of these additives in the hospitality sector, where such additives usually go unlabelled, please click here.