The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is to re-evaluate UK research claiming to show a link between food colourings and hyperactivity in children.

EFSA scientists have completed an initial review of research and have decided a further detailed assessment of the research is called for.

EFSA's panel on additives, flavourings, processing aids and materials in contact with food (AFC) is considering new research and is to ask for additional information from the UK's Food Standards Agency, which commissioned the study.

EFSA has provided the AFC panel with a preliminary evaluation of the study's statistical design based on available data.

In the meantime, the authority said it would be pushing ahead with its review of all currently permitted food colours, and is prioritising the six colours used in the study.

The AFC panel has identified a number of central issues related to the study, which it will study in depth, including the robustness of the study design and methodology, the statistical analysis, the role of genetic predisposition, and the clinical significance of the findings for individuals or the population in general.
Examination of these aspects will enable the AFC panel to assess the implications of the findings, EFSA said.
The panel noted that the study, carried out by the UK's University of Southampton, is the largest conducted so far on this area and has the potential to shed new light on this important question.

EFSA expects to complete its assessment by the end of January 2008, and said it will then be in a position to respond to a request from the European Commission for an opinion on the study.