Advice on food colouring

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is currently re-evaluating the safety of all permitted food colourings. EFSA’s evaluation has shown that in laboratory tests one food colouring, Red 2G
(E128), may have the potential to damage the genetic material in cells and cause cancer in animals.

On the basis of the EFSA evaluation, the FSA recommends that food producers stop using Red 2G.

Under current European Union legislation, Red 2G is only permitted for use in specific meat products, namely, breakfast sausages with a minimum cereal content of 6% and burger meat with a
minimum vegetable and/or cereal content of 4%. Red 2G is not permitted to be used as an additive in any other foods. Red 2G is likely to only be present in the specified products at very low
levels and does not pose an immediate health risk to consumers.

The FSA held an initial meeting today with stakeholders and further information is being gathered about the product. The meeting reported that a small percentage of burgers and sausages on sale
in the UK do contain Red 2G.

Usage of additives in the UK is governed by European legislation and a meeting of the EC’s Standing Committee will take place on 20 July 2007 to discuss what action should be taken at European
level regarding the control of Red 2G.

The Agency will continue to liaise with stakeholders, including EFSA and the EC about this issue and will review the situation and update our advice as appropriate.

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