Tim Tams vs Smarties : which one contains banned artificial colours?

This was originally posted in June 2012 and has been updated for April 2019

Back in 2012, we read an article on the 5 artificial colours that were found in the Australian version of Tim Tams. At the time, 4 of those artificial colours had been banned in the UK. We felt this cause for concern and did some more digging.

2012 UK banned artificial colours list - e102, e110, e129 & e133

We felt it was time to check back to see what, if anything, has changed. The following information comes directly from the Arnott's website.

2019 colours list - ARTIFICIAL = e102, e110, e129 & e133. They are the same 4 colours from the formula 7 years ago, so the recipe has not been updated. They also use natural colours of e160b, e120 (yes it's cochineal, made from crushed bugs), e162, e160c.

A side note on e120. If you're a vegan, you're not eating Tim Tam's to start with, but many people don't realise that e120 is insect derived. Insects are actually a very sustainable source of protein and have been eaten by Indigenous Australians for a very long time. Cricket Flour is becoming a little more mainstream and The Edible Bug Shop have a protein powder from crickets that's approved for human consumption by FSANZ. For every 20g, there's 13g of digestable protein and a mountain of micronutrients, including B12 and has 3x the amount of omega 3 good fat as salmon.

Back in 2012, the rainbow that is a box of Smarties was labelled as 'No Artificial Colours or Flavours' had 6 colours listed. They were:-

  • 100 - smiley face, but prohibited in food for infants
  • 120 - there's a question mark on this one, and again, prohibited in food for infants
  • 141 - smiley face, but prohibited in food for infants
  • 160a - smiley face, but prohibited in food for infants
  • 163 - smiley face however people sensitive to aspirin and MSG should avoid, prohibited in food for infants
  • 171- smiley face however suspected reproductive toxicity, prohibited in food for infants

This list has not changed for 2019 either. It remains unchanged.

Of course, in the grand scheme of things, whether we're talking about Smarties, Tim Tams or even our ethical choice of the Vego Bar and Vego Spread, they're all packed with sugar, and as Elmo says, they're a Sometimes Food. If you don't like to consume artificial colours, then there's a clear choice here, stay away from the Tim Tam. You can also safely choose our Loving Earth Chocolate or anything else in the food category in our store for a sweet treat with nothing artificial. All artificial colours and flavours are banned at Shop Naturally.

Further Reading

Safefood (EU) - e102 information, made from coal tar and voluntarily phased out in the UK in 2009. Any food in the EU must carry a warning "may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children'

Vego Spread vs Nutella - our taste test between the mainstream Nutella and the ethical / fair trade / palm oil free / vegan alternative, Vego Spread.

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