NZ Green Party
Erythrosine

A small crafts business, Golding Handcrafts, has applied to Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) to relax restrictions on the controversial food colouring, erythrosine.  Sue Kedgley is concerned because 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… Erythrosine can also provoke asthma, rashes and hyperactivity; it can cause light sensitivity and mood swings.

I see Golding’s co-owner Peter Dyne is defending the application saying:

We calculate the average five-year-old would have to consume 10 kilograms of icing to reach the safe daily limit of erythrosine set by the World Health Organisation.

He must be under the misapprehension that the average five-year-old would be put off by that kind of challenge.

I guess it will be all worth it though if our food can be a deeper hue of red.

34 thoughts on “Erythrosine

  1. The average five year old is in more danger going to school. Should they not go to school?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  2. We calculate the average five-year-old would have to consume 10 kilograms of icing to reach the safe daily limit of erythrosine set by the World Health Organisation.

    He must be under the misapprehension that the average five-year-old would be put off by that kind of challenge.

    A five year old might get his hand on 10kg of icing is the reason you support Kedgely on this frog, or what? And whither the WHO? I’ll defend the application too thanks, unless Sue has uncovered some labwork the WHO doesn’t know about?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  3. This is a cost/benefit problem, surely? The positives of a child going to school outweigh the negatives just as the positives of disinfecting drinking water outweigh the negatives.

    In this case a compound that has been shown to be harmful has no benefit to the consumer. I can’t think of a good reason to allow it, but FSANZ is seeking scientific advice (as it should).

    If the application leads to erythrosine making its way into other foodstuffs (the article quotes confectionery, biscuits, cakes, frankfurters and milk) it’ll be about halfway down the food pyramid of the average 8 year old.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 (+1)

  4. For crying out loud. What are we paying these bozos for?

    Everything is dangerous if you take far too much of it. There is risk in everything we do. The risk of problems from the icing additive is virtually non-existent and simply not worth worrying about. A kid would throw up long before they ate 1kg, let alone 10.

    She should turn her attentions to real problems.

    Think opportunity cost .

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  5. The risk of problems from the icing additive is virtually non-existent and simply not worth worrying about.

    The FSANZ is seeking scientific advice to determine this. It seems more sensible than taking Peter Dyne’s word for it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  6. Everything is dangerous if you take far too much of it.

    True as far as it goes, but it omits the fact that people won’t know that they’re paying for endocrine disruptors in their food.

    It seems quite reasonable to want keep unnecessary and harmful compounds out of children’s food.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  7. Personally BP I am against compulsory education and if a 5 year old does not want to attend school they shouldn’t have to. But I acknowledge that my view is a minority one.

    Most of us would probably argue that children should go to school, not because there are no risks, but because the benefits (in terms of education, socialisation etc) outweigh the risks. In the case of food colouring the benefits accrue to a very small section of society (food companies) and are in any event miniscule, so the analogy is spurious.

    What Dunne also needs to realise is that not all 5 years olds are average. By definition, half of all 5year olds will have a higher sensitivity to erythrosine than average, and some much higher.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  8. >>It seems quite reasonable to want keep unnecessary and harmful compounds out of children’s food.

    I welcome you evaluating the risk profile of alternative remedies – Hypericum, for example – banning anything with a similar or higher risk level than erythrosine.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  9. “Personally BP I am against compulsory education and if a 5 year old does not want to attend school they shouldn’t have to”

    And what happens if he or she does not want to go to school when they are seven, ten, or perhaps even fifteen?
    I cannot imagine for one moment that you would sit down with a child and ask them the question in the first place.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  10. >>In the case of food colouring the benefits accrue

    It’s alarmist nonsense. Water is a health risk (quantity). Chicken is a health risk (e-coli, Campylobacter). Just about everything kids do puts them at greater risk than this food additive.

    Suggest you wrap the little darlings in cotton wool. Might also like to keep them in a guided cage. Just to be safe.

    Safe…

    Must be safe….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  11. >>if a 5 year old does not want to attend school they shouldn’t have to

    Jesus wept. You take direction from a five year old?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  12. I welcome you evaluating the risk profile of alternative remedies – Hypericum, for example – banning anything with a similar or higher risk level than erythrosine.

    If it’s being put in kids’ food then I definitely agree.

    There’s a distinction here. If someone wants to buy medication or erythrosine or anti-freeze, then I’m all for it: and if they want to consume it, it’s their right as (hopefully) well-informed adults. But if they want to add these non-food items to food to sell to someone else then we have to know that any benefits aren’t outweighed by the risks. Most purchasers won’t know what hypericum / erythrosine / MeOH are or what they do to the body.

    If it’s going into a food that is primarily eaten by children, we need to be really, really sure.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  13. BP quite apart from your offensive swearing you don’t seem to understand risk assessment. When deciding on risk there are several factors that need to be taken into account

    1. What are the stakes and the odds?

    2. Do the benefits outweigh the risks?

    3. Is the risk voluntary?

    4. Are those taking the risk the same as those gaining the benefit?

    Arguments such as “anything is a risk in enough doses” are quite specious. When it comes to water, the benefits outweigh the risks (point 2). Those who drink water get the benefits and also take the risk (point 3). the risk is also voluntary (point 3).

    When it comes to food additives, the benefits are only to one particular industry, the risks are spread among everyone (point 4). Unless the risks are clearly communicated, the public is not making an informed choice, so they are not voluntary (point 3).

    Which brings us to points 1 and 2. the odds are quite low, but the stakes (the harm that could eventuate from ingesting the toxin) is high. There is therefore some risk. This may be acceptable risk if there are corresponding benefits. In this case there are none. Food colouring is non-nutritious, and has no medical use.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 (+1)

  14. >>you don’t seem to understand risk assessment

    Yes I do. You clearly do not.

    >>Do the benefits outweigh the risks?

    Irrelevant.

    They don’t have to weigh benefits. They only need to prove the food is safe. If you don’t see benefit in it, don’t buy it.

    If you unknowingly buy it, your chances of health problems are virtually nil. There are greater health risks involved in eating chicken, not to mention other foods.

    Where are you going to draw the line?

    You can’t argue benefits is the criteria, because the benefit will be different for each buyer. Perhaps some buyers like the colour. That’s the benefit – to them – and none of your business, so long as the food is safe (as safe as any food can be).

    The potential problem is over-regulation. You appear to favour outlawing anything that might cause a health problem, no matter how small, whilst demanding manufacturers weigh benefits.

    Do the same for organics. Best be on the safe side and ban the lot, because *some* organic farmers are sub-standard. Won’t anyone think of the children!

    It really is hysterical. And I thought that mother character in the Simpsons was fictional!

    >> your offensive swearing

    rolls-eyes…..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1 (-1)

  15. BluePeter

    If I may address some of the points in your last post:

    They only need to prove the food is safe.

    The food colouring is an endocrine disruptor with numerous side effects, including cancer.

    If you unknowingly buy it, your chances of health problems are virtually nil.

    That’s also the case if you buy melamine-tainted milk, anti-freeze wine, or BSE beef. It doesn’t mean that we should allow its sale.

    Perhaps some buyers like the colour.

    That’s the only reason to put it in the food — it’ll give a company a selling point. Then competitors will put it in their food, and then you’ve got a lot more erythrosine in kids’ diets for no net benefit to society.

    so long as the food is safe (as safe as any food can be).

    Adding the compound to any food will make it less safe than it can be.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  16. They only need to prove the food is safe.

    The food colouring is an endocrine disruptor with numerous side effects, including cancer.

    Got any proof? Where do you think the WHO got their information?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  17. >>The food colouring is an endocrine disruptor with numerous side effects, including cancer.

    Endocrine disruptor’s are prevalent in nature. Best not feed the child anything from a can or plastic bottle or plate. Stop using cosmetics and floor cleaners. Best avoid carpet and bed linen.

    All have something in common with the food additive. They contain very low levels of endocrine disruptors.

    The key metric is the level.

    Stop letting them scare you so much. They own you when you allow that to happen.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  18. Endocrine disruptor’s are prevalent in nature

    Man-made endocrine disruptors are indeed prevalent in nature.

    In the case of erythrosine, we banned it from most foods seventeen years ago: as a society we decided that the harms outweighed the benefits, in the same way that we decided that lead paint on kids’ toys wasn’t such a good idea.

    They own you when you allow that to happen.

    But they’ll never own you while you have that tin foil hat ;-)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  19. They also occur naturally. They can be found in plant compounds. To avoid the man made varieties, you’re going to need to stop using and eating a large range of products.

    Strange how greens will listen to scientists when it suits them, and ignore them when it doesn’t.

    >>But they’ll never own you while you have that tin foil ha

    Most politicians use fear as a tool. The Greens are no exception- as bad as the Rebublicans, in this respect.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  20. BP – your arguments are so patently contrarian and contribute so little to the debate that one can only assume that you have been soaking in too may endocrine disruptors yourself. How about contributing instead of just trolling?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  21. I am contributing. I’m playing devils advocate.

    I also believe what I say.

    Didn’t see a post on the electric car trial I pointed out, BTW.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  22. BP – which one? the Meridian trial or the Hyundai Getz announcement today? Sorry, I didn’t see your pointer. The Meridian trial is just old news, until they actually start doing something. Meridian has re-announced it a half dozen times.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  23. BP’s arguments seem to be that toxins occur naturally therefore it is okay to add unatural ones, and that because everything is harmful in taken in large enough doses therefore it is okay to import something that is toxic in small doses. Such arguments are to logic what George Bush is to world peace.

    Another point worth mentioning is that toxicity testing invariably involves testing on large numbers of animals. So animals are having to die, in their hundreds, and often painfully, not to cure cancer or AIDs, but simply so we can have yet one more food colouring.

    Certainly the benefits do not outweigh the harms in this case.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 (+1)

  24. kiore1

    And your argument is that if there is any potential issue, not matter how insignificant, you’ll ban it, so long as YOU perceive no benefit.

    Such arguments are to logic what the Green party is to New Zealand remaining a 1st world economy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  25. Er no, I don’t see it as a selfish argument at all. I also don’t see dying in agony as being “insignificant”. I doubt you would either if it was happening to you. My argument is based on standard risk assessment procedures as adhered to by regulatory bodies, namely that ithat if the risks outweigh the benefits it should not be imported. This is regardless of whether I benefit or not. Since I am neither a child nor an experimental animal nor have shares in a food company, on a personal level I have no interest either way.

    Your view appears to be that we are justified in killing and torturing as many animals as we please, and risking as many human lives as we want, just as long as someone benefits in any way, no matter how insignificant such a gain is. This is a perfectly rational view, just not a particularly ethical one.

    The view that because x is dangerous and available we are justified in importing y which is also dangerous, and the view that because x is dangerous in large quantities it is permissible to import y, which is dangerous is smaller quantities is however a complete non-sequitur.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  26. Emotive nonsense. The risk is clearly insignificant, and the benefit, or lack thereof, is irrelevant.

    So, you’re saying the consensus findings of a group of scientists is wrong?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  27. The benefits are not irrelevent. I repeat, all regulatory agencies conducting risk assessment take into account costs and benefits. This is true of ERMA, the FDA, Animal Ethics Committees and all other government agencies. The name “cost-benefit analysis” surely gives you a clue.

    The risk is not insignificant. Humans vary in sensitivity to chemicals and half the nations 5 year olds will require less than 10kg of acing sugar for a reaction. This is not emotion, it is school level statistics, something I suggest you go back and study.

    The risks (or it would be more appropriate to say harms, since the probability of death and pain is 1) are certainly not signficant to animals who have been force fed food colouring, hair dye, lipstick and other “essential” goods. It seems you are falling into your own trap of only considering something to be signficiant if you are personally affected.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 (+1)

  28. Where does it end? The fact that someone, somewhere, might be affected is irrelevant, because the risk, whilst there, is statisticly insignificant. There is no utopian situation where can weight all benefits and eliminate all risk.

    The world health organization scientists have already evaluated erythrosine. They have deemed it safe. That is good enough for me, and I suspect, good enough for most people who don’t get hysterical whenever someone uses the name of a chemical and mentions a child in the same sentence.

    The only danger I can see is that 0.001% of permantly paranoid mothers might get hysterical, but that’s a risk I’m prepared to take :)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  29. What about the 100% risk to experimental animals. Do they not count at all, as long as someone, somewhere can make a profit by conning consumers into thinking food is fresher than it really is by adding red colour? Where it ends is in a cost benefit analysis of all known risks and all known benefits. That is also where it begins. It is called risk assessment.

    And the WHO have not said it is safe, they have merely given the amount required to have an effect on the “average” child. Extrapolated no doubt from animal tests, which are notoriously unreliable.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  30. >>What about the 100% risk to experimental animals.

    Different argument, obviously. We’re talking about the effect on humans.

    >>they have merely given the amount required to have an effect on the “average? child.

    It is safe so much as anything is safe. There is nothing in nature that is 100% safe.

    Your argument is utopian, idealistic and divorced from the natural world.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  31. …Humans vary in sensitivity to chemicals and half the nations 5 year olds will require less than 10kg of acing sugar for a reaction. This is not emotion, it is school level statistics, something I suggest you go back and study.

    and

    And the WHO have not said it is safe, they have merely given the amount required to have an effect on the “average? child. Extrapolated no doubt from animal tests, which are notoriously unreliable.

    It seems like you’re referring to the median in the first paragraph, but the average in the second…?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  32. Yeah the first would be the median, unless it is a normal distribution, in which case mean and median are the same. Of course the WHO may have also meant the median rather than the mean, which would be a more sensible measure in any case if they are interested in the “average” child.

    BP simply giving a list of words is not an argument, you need to actually justify why each of them apply. There is no reason for example why banning a product is any more or less “natural” than not banning it, unless of course you define “natural” as allowing anything into the country, which is not the meaning most people would give to the word. It is also not safe as much as anything is safe. the WHO have determined that eating 10kg of icing is not safe. If we assume a conservative estimate of 1 part colouring to 1000 parts sugar, then eating 10g of pure colouring is unsafe. It is less safe than eating or drinking water, beer, brocoli, tofu, dirt, earthworms, earwigs, bananas or grass (etc., etc.) all of which would be safe to eat in those quantities. Ergo, it is not “safe so much as anything is safe”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>