§ Mrs. Joyce Butler
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list the principal groups of processed foods which contain amaranyn; and what research is being undertaken to find a safe alternative red food colour.
§ Mr. Strang
The principal groups of foods in which the permitted food colour, amaranth, is used are canned fruit, canned soup, jellies, preserves, soft drinks and sugar confectionery, though not all such foods will contain the colour.
The Food Additives and Contaminants Committee and the Toxicity and Carcinogenesis Sub-Committees of the Committee on Medical Aspects of Chemicals in Food and the Environment, the independent expert bodies that advise Ministers on food additives, have recently reviewed all the available evidence on the safety-in-use of amaranth. Their advice is that, on the available evidence, amaranth may be regarded as acceptable for continued use in food, subject to the carrying out of further long-term toxicological studies. This view is shared by the EEC Scientific Committee for Food.
Other red colours are already permitted for use in food by the Colouring Matter in Food Regulations 1973, as amended. The Food Additives and Contaminants Committee is currently reviewing these regulations and will be evaluating the 207W need for, and safety in use of, all food colours, whether presently permitted or not.