What is E127 food colouring? Why ‘illegal sprinkles’ forced Leeds bakery Get Baked to bin best selling items

The imported American sprinkles contain a food colouring currently not permitted in the UK

Leeds bakery shop Get Baked has been forced to stop selling its bestselling cookies after it was found to have been using “illegal sprinkles” by the trading standards officials.

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What happened?

The Leeds bakery was forced to withdraw some of its most popular cookies and cakes after it was discovered that the sprinkles used contained a banned food colouring in the UK.

The cookies that were withdrawn were called the Raspberry Glazed Donut, a Homer Simpson inspired cookie, and a Matilda inspired chocolate cake called the Birthday Bruce, both of which featured the controversial sprinkles.

The sprinkles used by the Leeds bakery were deemed to be ‘illegal’ (Photo: Get Baked)

A spokesperson for West Yorkshire Trading Standards said: "We can confirm that we have advised the business concerned the use of E127 is not permitted in this type of confectionery item.

"We stand by this advice and would urge all food business operators, when seeking to use imported foods containing additives, to check that they are permitted for use in the UK."

Food Standards Agency Head of Food Additives, Flavourings & Food Contact Materials policy, Adam Hardgrave said: “All food additives are subject to a robust risk assessment and authorisation process to make sure they are suitable for consumption.

“This colouring is only permitted for use in certain foods to ensure that people do not exceed the acceptable daily intake level.”

What has Get Baked said?

On a post from 3 October, the Get Baked Facebook page said that it had received a “lovely visit from Trading Standards on Friday [1 October] after someone reported us for using what are apparently illegal sprinkles”.

In a comment on the Get Baked Facebook page, the bakery said: “Unfortunately, I am only prepared to use them and no others.

“If I can’t use them, I won’t use any. I will be on sprinkle strike and won’t budge for no man.”

The Matilda inspired chocolate cake called The Bruce featuring the ‘illegal’ sprinkles (Photo: Get Baked)

Rich Myers, the owner of the bakery, said that the decision was “ridiculous” and that alternative sprinkles on the market are “rubbish”.

He said: “I know it sounds like a small thing but it is a big deal for my business - we used them a lot.

“Our best selling cookie, we’re not going to be able to sell them anymore. For a small independent business that only has a small menu, it’s a problem.”

Myers explained that the inspector was directed to his bakery after they had received “reports of [Get Baked] using illegal sprinkles”.

He said that he sourced the US-made sprinkles from a UK-based wholesaler, and added that other available sprinkles on the market simply don’t compare.

“[British sprinkles] run and aren’t bake-stable. The colours aren’t vibrant and they just don’t look very good,” Myers said.

What is E127?

E127 is a food colouring also known as Erythrosine, and isn’t banned in its entirety in the UK.

According to the West Yorkshire Trading Standards, E127 is currently only approved for use in the UK and EU in “cocktail cherries and candied cherries, and bigarreaux cherries in syrup and in cocktails”.

The Food Standards Agency website states that “most additives are only permitted to be used in certain foods and are subject to specific quantitative limits”.

Studies on artificial food dyes have suggested that there is a small but significant link between these dyes and hyperactivity in children.

Erythrosine has also been found to increase the risk of thyroid tumours in studies involving male rats.

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