July 11, 2007/The Irish Times -- The Food Safety Authority has announced a ban on a red food coloring used in some sausages and burger meat because of possible links to cancer.

The food color Red 2G, also known as E128, has been banned as a precautionary measure following a review of the color by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

Red 2G converts in the body into a substance called aniline. An EFSA expert panel looked at reviews on the safety of aniline which found large concentrations of aniline could have the potential to cause cancer in animals.

The panel found that there was not enough information to rule out the possibility that the substance could have the same effect on humans. It also found a lack of data to rule out the possibility that aniline could damage DNA.

The EFSA recommended that the previously established Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) for Red 2G be withdrawn because of these potential concerns.

Dr. Rhodri Evans, chief toxicology specialist with the FSAI, said Red 2G had been approved for use as a food additive in this State for a number of years, but was only permitted to be used at very low levels in breakfast sausages and burger meat.

"The main manufacturers have either already reformulated or are in the process of reformulating their recipes to remove this color. This process should be complete within a month, including any changes to packaging," he said.

Evans said the FSAI had instructed other manufacturers to stop using the color as soon as possible, but it was not asking manufacturers and retailers to remove products from sale "because we consider that any risk to consumers is very small."

From the July 16, 2007, Prepared Foods e-Flash