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Banned chemical to come back in children's food?

24 September 2008

Banned chemical to come back in children's food?

Green MP Sue Kedgley today expressed dismay that an attempt is being made by a Wellington company to reintroduce a banned chemical into food that children will eat.

The highly controversial food colouring, erythrosine - banned from all New Zealand food except preserved cherries - is poised to make an unwelcome comeback, thanks to the small crafts business Golding Handcrafts. Golding has applied to Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) to relax restrictions on the dye.

Erythrosine is a cherry-pink food dye, currently permitted only in maraschino cherries, cocktail cherries or glacé cherries in New Zealand, Australia and the European Union.

Erythrosine is an endocrine disruptor, altering the level of thyroid hormones to the extent that it causes thyroid tumours in lab tests.

"Any small change to the levels of thyroid hormones in small children can seriously affect their development. And that's why this chemical is not allowed in children's food," Ms Kedgley says.

"Small children don't usually eat maraschino cherries, but they do eat iced cakes and biscuits, and if this application succeeds that's where this toxic chemical will end up."

Erythrosine can also provoke asthma, rashes and hyperactivity; it can cause light sensitivity and mood swings.

Goldman Crafts say they want to be able to use erythrosine in icings for home cake decorators, to increase consumer choice. But if it gets the OK from FSANZ for this purpose it will also be used in commercial trade, Ms Kedgley says.

"I call on Goldman Holdings to act responsibly towards New Zealand's children and withdraw their request to FSANZ."


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