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

Why is this website focusing on just seven food additives?

Food additives have been suspected of affecting children’s behaviour for many years, but little scientific research had been carried out until a report was published in 2002. This report, known as the ‘Isle of Wight study’, indicated that a mixture of food colourings and the preservative sodium benzoate seemed to affect children’s behaviour. Despite wide publicity, only a few companies removed the food colourings from their products at the time.

In 2004 the Food Standards Agency (FSA) commissioned new research, known as the ‘Southampton study’, to check the results of the earlier Isle of Wight study. The Southampton Study was published in September 2007 and confirmed that mixtures of artifical food colourings and and the preservative sodium benzoate did affect some children’s behaviour.

However, because the study only looked at mixtures of food additives, it is impossible to say which specific additives can affect children’s behaviour. The FSA decided not to ban the additives, but has asked the European Food Safety Authority to examine the research and make an EU-wide decision on their safety.

In the meantime, the FSA is advising parents of children showing signs of hyperactivity that cutting the artificial colours from their diets might have some beneficial effects. Many health campaigners think that the artifical colourings should be removed from all foods and drinks, regarding them as unnecessary and potentially dangerous.

In order to help parents spot the suspect additives The Food Commission has set up the Action on Additives website, supported by a grant from the Organix Foundation, which is an independent, grant-giving body.

Links to useful information 

The latest FSA advice on artificial colours http://www.food.gov.uk/news/newsarchive/2007/sep/foodcolours

The ‘Southampton study’ was undertaken by Southampton University and published in The Lancet

  • Food additives and hyperactive behaviour in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the community: a randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial (download as 297kb pdf)


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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.