Campaigner and manufacturers at odds over colourings.

The council representing local food manufacturers has defended the use of controversial additives, including some that have proven negative effects in children.

New Zealand allows 14 additives that have been part of a phase-out, banned or never allowed in other countries, including the European Union and the United States.

The New Zealand Food and Grocery Council's chief executive, Katherine Rich, said all the additives used in this country were safe when included in a healthy diet.

"There are some specific treat foods where colour can be introduced to increase the appeal," she said.


"But you certainly wouldn't suggest people are eating these products in great quantities morning, noon and night."

Ms Rich said Food Standards Australia New Zealand, which sets the country's directives on additives, took an evidence-based approach and was constantly looking at what other countries were doing.

In the European Union, all 27 countries follow the governing body's laws for food additives.

However, at their own discretion, countries can call for a voluntary ban of food additives.

In 2008, Britain's Food Standards Agency agreed that six artificial food colourings should be phased out after research found them to be linked with hyperactivity in children.

In 2010, it was decided that EU-wide, health warnings would be put on the same six artificial food colours - Tartrazine (E102), Quinoline Yellow (E104), Sunset Yellow (E110), Carmoisine (E122), Ponceau 4R (E124) and Allura Red (E129).

Any food and drink containing any of those colours, except drinks with more than 1.2 per cent alcohol, now have to provide a warning on the label that the colour "may have effects on activity and attention in children".

All six colours are allowed in New Zealand.

Ms Rich questioned the study and said the phase-out in the UK was swayed by activism and political whim.

Safe food campaigner Sue Kedgley applauded the EU's hard line on the additives, particularly colours which she said served no other purpose than making food look "brightly coloured mostly to appeal to children".

"When the whole of Europe is taking this action, you have to ask, 'Why would we fail to act?'."

Ms Kedgley encouraged manufacturers to impose a voluntary ban on the six additives because FSANZ "are dragging their feet".

"One way of staving off regulation is introducing a voluntary phase-out of these particular colours.

"And there are natural colours that are available that could be used instead."

FSANZ spokeswoman Lorraine Belanger has said it believes all additives it has approved are safe.

She said it did survey work, and if there were any concerns it investigated to see if regulatory changes were needed.

'If there was a health and safety issue the permission for an additive would be reviewed."