Despite extensive research conducted by the Food Standards Australia proving there are no adverse affects to consuming products with added MSG (monosodium glutamate) and artificial colourings, Coles has removed both ingredients in direct response to consumer concerns.
Lydia Buchtmann, communication adviser at Food Standards Australia, told FoodNavigator-Asia that the government food regulator has conducted “rigorous safety reviews of MSG and colours showing that they are safe for the general population.”
She added that it is possible a few consumers may experience intolerances but that they would not be life threatening like major allergies.
The retail giant’s private label range is now entirely free from artificial colours and MSG, following a five-year project to reformulate all of its own food and beverage brands.
‘Listening to our consumers’
“Our customers are clearly concerned by food additives and the effect they believe they have on their health. A significant number have indicated that they or their children have experienced reactions to artificial colours and MSG,” Jackie Healing, quality manager for Coles said.
This move is simply a reaction to this, Healing added.
The supermarket noted that research showed 91% of customers were worried about consuming products with added MSG and artificial colours, with 76% avoiding such products.
Vanessa Walles, marketing manager at natural ingredients supplier Chr Hansen Australia, said “Coles are being pro-active by taking this stance, it is not because they have to,” and consumers will appreciate this.“It certainly sends a very positive message that Coles is listening to consumer needs and moving with the market expectation of natural colours,” Walles said.
There are no laws against the use of MSG and artificial colourings in food and beverage products in Australia.
Food manufacturers are just required to label a food when MSG is added, either by name or by its food additive code number 621. Walles noted however, that consumer pressure fuelled by media focus on artificial colours and MSG has created a market demand for products free from these additives.
“Natural is the way the colours market is moving”, Walles said.
Add to this, the Southampton Six ruling in the EU where manufacturers using artificial colours have to provide the warning label, ‘may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children’, and there is a burgeoning pressure towards natural products, she said.
Similarly Aldi’s removal of artificial colours may have been an influencing factor, she added.
“Many branded products have already made the switch from artificial to natural colours, however there are still many products to follow suit,” Walles said.