North Yorkshire County Council’s trading standards service has launched the scheme in response to recent research which links food colouring additives to hyperactivity and behavioural problems in children.
Asian Spice, in Bentham, is the first food outlet to sign up to the scheme. All its dishes are now produced without any artificial colouring.
“Many Indian restaurants prepare their dishes using artificial colours because customers wrongly believe that authentic dishes are brightly coloured, or that it enhances the flavour,” said the restaurant’s owner, Mr Mohammed Ullah.
“There is also a widely held misconception that the redder a dish is, the hotter it is. Our food retains its natural colour, without compromising on taste. We are grateful that our efforts have been recognised.”
Six food colours – Sunset Yellow (E110), Quinoline yellow (E104), Carmoisine (E122), Allura Red (E129), Tartrazine (E102) and Ponceau 4R (E124) – are often used in dishes prepared by Asian restaurants in the UK where the visual appearance of distinctly coloured dishes is considered a characteristic quality.
Studies by researchers at Southampton University have linked the colours to hyperactivity and behavioural problems, and since January 2010 it has been a legal requirement for pre-packed drinks and foods which contain them to carry a warning that the additives “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.” The requirement does not apply however to restaurant or take-away foods.
“This scheme is an effort to give consumers the confidence that they can eat out without having to unknowingly consume these unnecessary food colours,” said County Councillor Chris Metcalfe, Executive Member for Trading Standards.
“The use of artificial colours in restaurant and take-away foods is regulated, subject to maximum limits; however there is no legal requirement to declare that they have been used. This scheme will, we hope, encourage local food businesses to remove the additives.”
Restaurants interested in signing up for the scheme and receiving a certificate recognising their commitment are asked to contact the trading standards business advice team on 01609 534868, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org