Supermarket bans suspect additives

The Co-op supermarket has banned monosodium glutamate and a number of notorious E-number additives from its own-brand products.

The chain, which has long been a high-profile advocate of Fair trade produce and likes to be seen as the 'ethical supermarket', says it has removed the additives in response to consumer concerns.

The ban covers 12 colourings, all of which are legal in the EU though some are outlawed in the USA and Japan.

The additives have been linked to hyperactivity and other behavioural disorders in children, though nutritionists say the evidence for such links is weak and it is more likely the chemicals cause intolerances in a small number of people.

The ban has meant the supermarket has had to remove certain products, such as marshmallows and Chinese-style spare ribs, from its shelves as no alternative ingredients can be found.

"Some scientists say these chemicals present little or no risk, others say they should have been banned ages ago," said David Croft, head of Co-op Brand at the Co-operative Group.

"We believe there is enough credible evidence against their use to avoid them, thereby giving the benefit of the doubt to consumers, especially as these chemicals are easily replaced without any discernible difference."

"Today's consumers want and expect higher standards of integrity and they'll vote with their wallets to support or veto products.

"They're no longer passive consumers, but want to play an influencing role as active citizens.

"That's why the Co-op is embarking on the most radical review of a supermarket own-brand range ever undertaken."

By Sam Bond



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