Colours and flavours phased out at Asda

One of the 'big four' supermarkets has announced plans to remove all artificial colours and flavours from its own-label products.

Asda's committment means that by the end of this year, none of the supermarket's 9,000 own label food and soft drinks products will contain any artificial colours or flavours, aspartame, hydrogenated fat or flavour enhancers, such as monosodium glutamate (MSG).

All Asda's own label product ranges will also meet or exceed the Food Standard Agency's salt targets, more than two years ahead of the 2010 deadline, the retailer said.

The cost of changing the recipes is over £30m and Asda said as far as possible, the taste of its products will not be affected.

Darren Blackhurst, Asda's food trading director, said: "We know that our customers, particularly those that are mums and dads, are becoming more and more concerned about what's in the food that they buy.

"We want to make life easier and healthier for them and their families by stripping out the 'nasties' from all our own label food and soft drinks, so they can have complete confidence that no colours or flavours are being used that aren't needed, and, where they are, they're 100% natural.

"In the vast majority of cases, we'll be able to achieve this without any impact on the taste of our products."