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Supplementary food colours report

(June 2012)

Following the publication in 2008 of the Survey of added colours in foods available in Australia Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has received new information which has allowed FSANZ to update the estimated dietary exposure of children to added colours. This new information includes:

  • updated food consumption data from the 2007 Australian Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey
  • revised Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) from the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) for Quinoline Yellow and Sunset Yellow FCF and
  • typical use level data from the confectionery industry on the typical usage levels of five lake colours- Allura Red, Brilliant Blue, Indigotine (Indigo Carmine), Sunset Yellow FCF and Tartrazine.

Based on the new information, FSANZ has conducted an updated dietary exposure assessment for the Australian population sub-groups: children 2-5 years, 6-12 years and 13-16 years. For the updated dietary exposure assessments, new data on typical manufacturer use levels for specific colours from the confectionary industry was combined with existing data from the 2008 Survey of added colours in foods available in Australia. To ensure the new data was robust, a comparison of the FSANZ 2008 analytical data was compared to the concentrations provided by industry, which showed negligible differences. This similarity provides confidence that the data provided by industry is representative of the use of lake colours in products in the Australian marketplace.

The mean (consumers only) and 90th percentile (representing high consumers) estimated dietary exposures were calculated for each individual colour and population sub-group. Dietary exposures were calculated using the mean analytical concentrations obtained in the 2008 survey (to represent consumption of a range of brands and varieties of foods over time) and the maximum analytical concentrations (to estimate the potential exposures from always consuming products with the highest concentrations of each colour). The use of the maximum analytical concentrations results in an overestimation of exposure to colours in most cases but was included in order to investigate the ‘worst case’ scenario.

The estimates of exposure presented in this supplementary report to added colours in foods and beverages for all children aged 2-16 years in Australia, even for high consumers (90th percentile) based on maximum analytical concentrations, are well within established ADIs.

The estimated dietary exposure to added colours for children aged 2-16 years of age is lower than reported in the 2008 colours survey. FSANZ has concluded that added colours do not pose a public health and safety concern for children in Australia as part of a balanced diet. FSANZ continues to monitor international developments on the permitted levels of added colours to foods and beverages.

Download: Supplementary report to the 2008 Survey of added colours in foods available in Australia (pdf 2.4 mb)

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