Pre-school children may have the highest exposure to food additives, but researchers should take a more holistic approach to assessing risk, according to a new paper published in Proceedings of the Nutrition Society.
There are currently 322 different food additives approved for use in the European Union, with a rapid increase in the number in recent years. Globally, there is a complex framework of regulation and ongoing assessments of additive purity and maximum allowed levels in different foods and drinks.
But there are different risks to take into account when assessing children's exposure to additives, including children's rapid development, higher intake of foods in relation to body weight, and often a greater number of frequently consumed foods, the paper's authors write.
However, while many researchers have focused on artificial colours as a particular potential hazard for children, the paper's authors suggest: "Future assessments should, where possible, examine a range of food additive types rather than food colours exclusively."
They added: "it is important to consider the limitations of the available scientific studies when interpreting results."