From April 2010 Woolworths-branded foods will no longer contain azo dyes, a type of artificial colorant frequently used to colour sweets and other brightly coloured foodstuffs. It’s the latest step on what Woolworths refers to as its Good Food Journey, and follows the removal of the artificial sweeteners aspartame, saccharin and cyclamate last year. As with the sweeteners, it’s largely due to request from customers that Woolworths has removed azo dyes. “Our customers have expressed their concerns about azo dyes,” explains Woolworths Food Divisional Director Julian Novak. “Tartrazine was the first azo dye we stopped using, and that was in 2002. The removal of all azo dyes has been the biggest step we’ve taken since we removed tartrazine and MSG from our Woolworths branded foods.” He adds, “It’s also in keeping with our Good Food Journey goal of minimising the use of additives in our foods wherever possible. Where we could, we’ve removed or replaced azo dyes. For instance, we used beetroot red – a beetroot extract – to help create the pink colour in our Valentine’s range this year. Products where azo dyes have been removed include candy-coated Easter eggs, jelly sweets (including jelly beans, wine gums, rondos and wiggly worms), as well as cupcakes and fruit nectar squash drinks. “Customers may notice that some colours are a little paler than they were previously,” says Novak. “We think they’ll be happy to trade a little brightness for the peace of mind of knowing that there are no azo dyes in their Woolies food.” ENDS NOTES FOR THE EDITOR What is the Good Food Journey? The Good Food Journey is the name we’ve given to our ongoing quest to offer South Africa food that’s better for our customers, better for the environment and better for the people who produce it. It encompasses everything from not using additives like tartrazine and MSG in our foods, switching to more natural flavourants, and offering more organic and free range choices, to caring for the welfare of animals and promoting healthy eating as part of a healthy lifestyle. In recent years Woolworths has removed hydrogenated vegetable oils (HVOs) from its fresh prepared food and has removed over 35 tons of salt (based on average annual sales), primarily from its breads, cereals and cold meats, and some 79 tons of sugar from its chilled 100% fruit juices and nectars. Why remove azo dyes? Internationally there is increasing concern over azo dyes. Although there is no scientific proof that they are harmful, azo dyes have been included in the list of additives implicated in the Southampton Study, which showed that in certain combinations, they could have a negative effect on children suffering from ADHD.