ICE cream, candies and cakes could become less colorful in future. The Ministry of Health is planning to ban the use of 38 food additives, including 17 colors, for health reasons.
The ministry is seeking public opinion and has published a list on its website (www.moh.gov.cn), inviting comments by April 20.
In January it asked for views on the safety and necessity of 55 food additives. With the benefit of expert opinion, it has now cut the list down to 38 additives.
Wu Chuanye, a food safety expert with the Hunan Province Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said coloring, both natural and artificial, was added to many foods to make them more attractive to customers. But he added: "It is better not to use unnecessary food additives."
Wu said that, for example, ice cream is white and the colorful varieties on the market were the result of additives which were not necessary as they had no influence on production, storage or nutritional value. Long-term consumption of such colorings could affect people's health, especially that of children, he said.
All the additives listed, including the 17 colorings, were not necessary, he said.
China has regulations governing the use of additives to ensure food safety.
Gu Zhenhua, vice director of the Shanghai Food Safety Office, said the most important aspect of a food additive was its necessity. If an additive was not necessary for a type of food, it should not be used.
But Gu said some foods needed additives.
Bread, for instance, will become dry and hard after a day if flour improver is not used. And without preservatives, it will develop mould within two days.