Newspaper stories claiming food additives are harmful to children were based on a dated piece of research which was in fact inconclusive, according to the Food and Drink Federation.
Stories this week about Southampton University research used headlines such as ‘Proof that e-numbers really do make a child hyperactive’ and ‘E-numbers do harm children, tests show’.
However, a spokeswoman for the federation said: “The research was commissioned by MAFF and inherited by the Food Standards Agency, and was carried out between 1999 and 2000.
“Independent medical and scientific experts examined the findings of this research and agreed the evidence and conclusions of this research were not conclusive.
She added: “This remains an area of significant scientific uncertainty.”
A spokeswoman for the Food Standards Agency said it had commissioned further work to try to resolve the uncertainty on the issue, and it was due to start later this year.