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Monday, 3 December, 2001, 16:27 GMT
Number is up for pupils' tuck
Children playing
Additives affect children's behaviour, a school found
A head teacher who encouraged children to give up brightly-coloured sweets says it has transformed their behaviour.

Academic performance has also improved, according to Gordon Walker, of Tywardreath School in Cornwall.

But he says the government has ignored his concerns about the effects of food additives in sweets and other products, such as fizzy drinks.

Mr Walker banned food with additives from school lunches during a week in mid-November, and invited parents to carry on the experiment at home.

Fewer detentions

He said both parents and children were enthusiastic after being given a list of E-numbers to avoid during the week of 12-16 November.

I have seen my two boys' behaviour go within seconds of eating them

Gordon Walker, Tywardreath School
Since then, he has given out fewer detentions and children have been calmer.

He said: "I have been a head teacher for 17 years and I have noticed a change in children over that time, in terms of behaviour and concentration.

"There are other factors, such as social change, but I think food additives have a lot to do with it."

His own children, Jack, 13, and Sam, eight, have continued avoiding additives linked with hyperactivity.

Crime link

He said one well-known chocolate sweet had an almost instantaneous effect.

"I have seen my two boys' behaviour go within seconds of eating them," he said. "It's quite frightening.

"I had a phone call from a community policeman in Penzance who was convinced half the crimes committed by youngsters were caused by additives."

E-numbers on school's blacklist
E 102 Tartrazine
E 104 quinoline yellow
E 107 yellow 2G
E 110 sunset yellow FCF
E 120 cochineal
E 122 carmoisine
E 123 amaranth
E 124 ponceau 4R
E 127 erythrosine
E 128 red 2G
E 132 indigo carmine
E 133 brilliant blue FCF
E 150 caramel
E 150 black PN
E 154 brown FK
E 155 brown HT
E 210 benzoic acid
E 211sodium benzoate
E 220 sulphur dioxide
E 250 sodium nitrite
E 251 potassium nitrite
E 320 butylated hydroxyanisole
E 321 butylated hydroxytoluene
But he said letters to the government met with little response.

They were passed between Tony Blair's office, the Department of Education and the Department of Health - which sent him a booklet on healthy school meals, he said.

"They have not listened. Perhaps it is because there are multi-national companies involved."

He said children could still find sweets without the blacklisted E-numbers, but they were unlikely to be brightly coloured.

Last year, a boarding school in Sussex banned sweets and fizzy drinks from its tuck shop.

Seaford College also found pupils' behaviour and concentration improved.

European law says food additives may only be authorised if they present no hazard to the health of the consumer.

They can only be used following stringent tests and approval by an independent committee of scientists.

But some scientists have linked additives - particularly tartrazine or E102 - to hyperactivity in children and other problems.

See also:

28 Sep 00 | Education
School bans sweets to calm pupils
12 Jul 00 | Education
What schools should serve
06 Oct 99 | Medical notes
Food additives
08 Nov 99 | UK
Shades of palatability
17 Feb 99 | Health
Additives ban move to cut smoking
29 Oct 98 | Education
An apple from teacher?
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