Of the 196 samples taken, levels of colours in 191 were within limits set out in The Colours in Food Regulations 1995. Five samples contained levels of two colours that were above the legal limits (E110 sunset yellow FCF and E122 carmoisine). While this is unacceptable, the two colours were not found at levels that would be expected to cause adverse health effects. The survey also found colours not listed on the product labels in 14 of the sweet samples.
The Food Standards Agency believes that all ingredients in foods, including all additives, should be listed on products. They are pressing the European Commission for change in this area so that consumers can be fully aware of what is in the food that they eat. They have also written to the companies involved with the results of the affected samples. Their responses, where received, are included as part of the survey.
Most have taken their own action to resolve the problem. For example, in one case a modification of the sweet manufacturing process has ensured that legal levels of colours will now be met.
The results have been passed to the relevant local enforcement authorities to take further action where necessary and to ensure legal requirements are observed in the future.
The survey was undertaken to determine if the legal requirements relating to colours in confectionery were being observed. The survey tested for the following colours:
The Agency will continue to work with local enforcement authorities to make sure that the necessary action is taken and ensure the levels of colours in sweets are within legal limits.