Suspicious chemicals in NZ chocolate
By MARY JANE BOLAND - Sunday Star Times | Sunday, 30 December 2007

A chemical banned in the United States and linked with hyperactivity and the risk of birth defects, cancer and reproductive problems is used in chocolates sold in New Zealand.

The chemical amaranth (colour 123 on the ingredients list on product packaging) is derived from coal tar and is used to give a reddish colour.

Australian Bill Statham, whose book The Chemical Maze lists good and bad chemicals in food, cosmetics and household products, took the Sunday Star-Times on a shopping trip to find products with the suspect chemicals on our shelves.

The self-published book has sold 90,000 copies in New Zealand and Australia since 2001.

Statham became interested in what's in food and cosmetics when people started consulting his homeopathy business in Victoria for help with headaches and other ailments, including skin rashes.

Most people are familiar with "the red cordial syndrome" as he calls it, when children become hyperactive after having exotically-coloured soft drinks.

He discovered people's ailments were often linked with food. The artificial sweetener aspartame, for example, is in most sugar-free drinks, chewing gums and lollies, but had strong links with patients who suffered ongoing headaches.

Statham says favour enhancers, colouring, and MSG are the main things to look out for. Colours with the numbers 102, 110, 122 and 124, are often used in children's foods but they are also derived from coal tar. A UK study, out earlier this year, recommended parents remove foods with those specific colourings in their foods because it was linked to children's moods, hyperactivity, sleep, and ability to concentrate.

"We removed those additives from kids' diets and they got better overnight. I've had emails about my book with reports from teachers asking if it is the same child because their behaviour is so different."

Some preservatives contain sulphur dioxide which has also been linked to asthma and other respiratory problems.

And in cosmetics there is a whole host of potential toxins, like diethanolamine (DEA) which is used to make products bubble but can irritate the skin and work with other chemicals to become carcinogenic. It's on the United States National Institute of Health's hazards list.

Statham says he is not trying to be the fun police but wants people to be aware of what they're eating and also products they're using that may harm their health.

"I'm not a purist, it's everything in moderation."

From here .