A quarter of takeaway curries contain illegal levels of potentially harmful chemicals, a study has found.
The survey of 66 takeaways in West Yorkshire found that 27 per cent of them were using illegally high levels of artificial colour.
Nearly all the samples were coloured with a cocktail of tartrazine (E102), sunset yellow (E110), ponceau 4R (E124), carmoisine (E122) and allura red (E129).
The Food Standards Agency has called for these colours to be phased out of use because of their effects on children.
An earlier study by researchers at the University of Southampton has shown evidence of increased levels of hyperactivity in young children consuming mixtures of some artificial food colours and the preservative sodium benzoate.
“The Food Standards Agency is asking food and drink manufacturers to phase out the use of these artificial colours,” said Graham Hebblethwaite, West Yorkshire’s chief trading standards officer.
“The food industry has generally taken great strides to remove them but the message does not appear to have been heeded by the takeaway curry trade.”
The law currently allows curry sauces to contain up to 500mg/kg of artificial colour but one sample was found to contain five times this level.
Sweets are allowed to contain up to 300mg/kg of colour but the study showed the worst curry contained the equivalent amount of colour as 3.6kg (8lb) of brightly coloured sweets.
West Yorkshire Trading Standards sampled the same curry, chicken tikka masala, at each takeaway.