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Parliamentary question - E-007471/2013Parliamentary question

E120 colouring (Cochineal, Carmine, Carminic acid)

Question for written answer E-007471-13
to the Commission
Rule 117
Ivo Belet (PPE)

E120 is a red colouring obtained from the cochineal beetle. Fluid from the beetles is mixed with other substances (e.g. tin) to make it more colour-fast. The colouring is used in various well-known food products — chocolate, yoghurt drinks, etc. — as well as in pharmaceutical products. In order to obtain the colouring, hot water is poured on the insects (after which they are dried), and they are ground and steamed. In order to obtain 1 kg of E120, 155 000 insects are needed.

There is also a colouring of a similar shade (E124) which is of synthetic origin.

On 13 June, it was reported in the media that a consignment of European chocolate had been apprehended in China because it contained this colouring. The EFSA has likewise investigated possible allergic reactions to E120. Hyperactivity in children is said to be another possible side effect.

1. What view does the Commission take of the use of this rather controversial colouring?

2. Does the Commission have any scientific studies indicating that this product poses no threat to public health, particularly the health of children?

3. Can the Commission investigate whether Directive 2003/89/EC does not require consumers to be provided with information about the origin of this colouring by means of product labelling, particularly in the interests of transparency for consumers?

OJ C 55 E, 26/02/2014