SOLENE QUENNEHEN Two major supermarket chains confirmed yesterday they are to take steps to remove artificial additives from their own brand products next year.

Asda is to remove all artificial additives from its food and soft drinks from March next year while Tesco said it will "phase out" artificial colouring and flavouring during 2008.

After rival Sainsbury's removed all artificial additives from 12,000 of its products in September, other supermarket chains have been under increasing pressure to follow its example.

Sally Bunday, of the Hyperactive Children's Support Group, said: "It is good news, particularly for our members who are adversely affected by the artificial colours which are used in so many soft drinks."

In June this year, Sainsbury's was the first in the industry to remove sulphite ammonia caramel from fizzy cola drinks, and now only uses natural colours and fruit and vegetable extracts as colouring agents in their soft drinks.

Now Asda plans to clear some 9000 products of all E numbers, aspartame and hydrogenated vegetable oil. The chain is planning to replace them with named natural sources, including herbs and spices. The supermarket also said it has removed MSG (monosodium glutamate) from its snacks, artificial flavours and colours from its confectionery and is in the process of re-launching its own-brand lime cordial, made with natural additives, by Christmas.

Andy Adcock, head of Asda branding, said: "We are delighted to be the first UK food retailer to deliver this pledge and are proud to begin the new year as we mean to go on."

As a consequence, foods such as glace cherries, cola and peas will be manufactured using healthier alternatives, thus slightly altering the taste and colour of the food.

A Tesco spokesman said: "Artificial colours and flavourings will be phased out from all of our products during 2008."

Mel Cooke, a spokeswoman for Sainsbury's which has already removed additives from 80% of its own products, said: "We've removed artificial additives where we knew we could."