Sir; Following the media furore over the Food Standards Agency's survey into additives, I believe it is important to keep stressing the industry's viewpoint and the facts as they really are ('Colourings and preservatives affect children's health', The Grocer, 8 September, p4).
One of the biggest trends in the market is for manufacturers and retailers to reduce the use of additives in their products, as well as replacing additives used with non-artificial alternatives. This trend is a direct response to consumer demand.
In addition, companies must label the additives they use in their products, so consumers wishing to avoid certain ingredients can do so by looking at the food label.
However, we must keep emphasising the fact that the colourings targeted by the study are legal and are judged to be safe by the European authorities. And the study does not suggest there is a safety issue with these particular additives.
We think the findings from the study need to be treated carefully, particularly when the FSA's Independent Committee on Toxicity says the results do not prove the colours cause increased hyperactivity but provide supporting evidence for a link.
Nevertheless, industry is not complacent. Companies will, of course, be busily digesting the research, and the FSA's subsequent advice, all of which will feed into their ongoing reviews of product formulations.
We also welcome the fact that the FSA is referring the research to the European Food Safety Authority as part of its ongoing review of all food additives.
We must get rid of these chemicals Dr Elizabeth Vann Chair, the Organic Trade Group
Sir; We are very disappointed the Food Standards Agency did not feel the organic sector of the food industry was worthy of being consulted on its recent food additives research before its response was published ('Colourings and preservatives affect children's health - FSA', The Grocer, 8 September, p4). More than half of all shoppers now buy organic foods and organic standards prohibit the use of all the additives identified in the report as having a "significantly adverse effect" on children.
Children must not continue to be exposed to these additives. The Organic Trade Group, which promotes and protects the growth of organic trade, believes the FSA is wrong to assume only some children will be adversely affected by the additives in the research.
Children's health varies along a broad spectrum and neither the researchers nor the FSA is able to say at which point along that line, and therefore what percentage of the population, will be affected by the chemicals.
The consequence of this is that all children should be protected from the chemicals.
It is also wrong that the FSA has not taken a more precautionary approach. By leaving the decision to parents, many children will remain unprotected from the effect of these chemicals because their parents may not be aware of the research or government advice, or indeed may not have a choice of foods on sale. The labelling of particular foods may also be hard to read or understand and the foods containing additives may be cheaper than those that do not, providing a disincentive for those on a budget.
Not addressing these issues via regulation would appear to allow the conventional food industry to continue to deceive the public about their foods by using dyes to imply, for example, a greater quantity of fruit. This appears to over-ride the need to protect children from these hazardous chemicals.
The conventional food industry often acts in ways that make the public feel uneasy. As our government and regulators do not appear to be able, or have the will, to protect us and our children from the consequences of poor quality food, the choice to buy organic is a leading solution to the problem.
End of the road for canned? I think not Steve Thomas Chairman, Canned Food UK
Sir; It is not the end of the road for canned ('End of the road for canned? The Grocer, 8 September, p55). The canned food category remains universally popular with more than 99% of the population purchasing canned food in 2006. It is still growing in value and is a massive market worth more than £1.7bn.
Innovation and investment are key to its success and there is real evidence of both happening. Canned is the most vibrant it has been for years with enormous investment going into manufacturing facilities, packaging, new food products and promotions.
All this activity aims to throw off an old-fashioned image and clearly demonstrate the industry is adapting to modern lifestyles.
A constant challenge to our industry figures is in educating consumers into category benefits. This is also something that is constantly happening. Canned Food UK is continuing to educate consumers and increase the profile of the sector while using a strategic approach to target key buying groups.
Using high profile celebrities such as James Martin and Philippa Forrester Canned Food UK has produced a wealth of marketing material that promote the key messages of nutrition, convenience and recycling that will produce a long term change in purchasing habits.