Bakery companies have swung into action after an investigation into the effects of additives on children’s behaviour.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) recently announced that eating or drinking certain mixes of colourings, including Sunset yellow (E110), Quinoline yellow (E104), Carmoisine (E122), Allura red (E129), Tartrazine (E102) and Ponceau 4R (E124), together with the preservative sodium benzoate, could be linked to a negative effect on children’s behaviour. This follows the publication of an FSA-commissioned study by Southampton University.

The FSA suggested that parents who think their children show signs of hyperactive behaviour should avoid foods containing artificial colours and the preservative sodium benzoate.

BakeMark UK said that the colourings are found in products such as doughnut toppings and icing. "As a result of the research findings, BakeMark UK plans to evaluate alternatives to these ingredients as part of its continued commitment to offering its customers better-for-you options," said Vera Malhotra, head of marketing at BakeMark UK.

Gary Gibbs head of product development at British Bakels said: "We have removed these ingredients from our range and now use natural alternatives. But these are generally less vibrant and fade-resistant than the artificial colours." He added that this announcement from the FSA may cause problems for importers of bakery goods.

Three-year-olds and eight- to nine-year-olds were tested in the FSA study, which investigated additives commonly used in children’s food.