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Food coloring

Red Food Coloring Used in Sausage Linked to Cancer

Sunday, December 23, 2007 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: food coloring, food additives, health news

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(NewsTarget) An expert panel of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has recommended that the food coloring known as E128 or as Red 2G is no longer considered safe for human consumption.

Under the current laws of the European Union, Red 2G is permitted only in sausages that have at least 6 percent cereal content, or burger meat that is at least 4 percent vegetable and / or cereal. The United Kingdom is the only EU country to use the coloring, however, and the British Food Standards Agency is currently investigating the extent of its use.

Red 2G has already been banned in Australia, Austria, Canada, Japan, Norway, Sweden and the United States.

The EFSA recommendation came in light of new studies suggesting that Red 2G is a carcinogen. The body converts the coloring into a substance called aniline, which has been shown to be a carcinogen in mice and rats. Aniline's effects on the human body are not known for certain.

"Given new scientific evidence, it cannot be excluded that aniline's carcinogenic potential is due to damage to the genetic material of cells," the EFSA panel said. "It is therefore not possible to determine a level of intake for aniline which may be regarded as safe for humans."

In addition to being a potential carcinogen, aniline is also known to have detrimental effects on the nervous and circulatory systems, and may lead to cyanosis, drowsiness, loss of appetite, mental confusion and even convulsions.

In response to the EFSA recommendation, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has banned Red 2G.

"The main manufacturers have either already reformulated or are in the process of reformulating their recipes to remove this color," an FSAI spokesperson said. "This process should be complete within a month, including any changes to packaging.... We are not requiring manufacturers and retailers to remove products from sale that have already been made using Red 2G."

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