Consumer Group Calls Food Dyes Unsafe

Apr 01, 2011

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is
calling on the federal government to ban food dyes in light of recent studies
showing that coloring may trigger hyperactivity in kids suffering from attention
deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). If the government is unwilling to
ban the dyes, CSPI is looking to have a warning added to products that contain
artificial colors.

While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has long held
that foods and beverages with the dyes are safe, the agency has agreed to review
findings from recent studies that suggest a connection between consumption
of food coloring and ADHD. The FDA has confirmed that studies show some kids
with ADHD being negatively affected by consuming products with dyes. Up to
five percent of American kids have ADHD.

"The evidence that these petrochemicals worsen some children’s behavior
is convincing, and I hope that the FDA’s advisory committee will advise
the agency to both require warning notices and encourage companies voluntarily
to switch to safer natural colorings " said Michael Jacobson, executive
director of CSPI,  said in a statement.

"In Europe, a law requires most dyed foods (there are few) to bear a
warning notice, which is a powerful incentive for food manufacturers not
to use artificial dyes. Last I heard, Europe is surviving quite well. It is
to the great shame of many U.S.-based food companies that they are marketing
safer, naturally colored products in Europe but not in the United States," Mr.
Jacobson added.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association released a statement: "All
of the major safety bodies globally have reviewed the available science and
have determined that there is no demonstrable link between artificial food
colors and hyperactivity among children."

Separately but connected,
Whole Foods saw an opportunity over the food dye dispute to remind consumers
that it has not sold products containing artificial coloring since the 1980s.

"Our quality standards prohibit artificial colors because of our deep
commitment to selling the highest quality natural and organic foods," Joe
Dickson, global quality standards coordinator for Whole Foods Market, said
in a statement. "Our
shoppers rely on us to set high standards so they can shop with peace of
mind, and artificial colors are not consistent with our vision for natural
and organic food."

Discussion Questions: Do you see food companies voluntarily making the switch to natural food colorings in light of the current controversy over artificial dyes? Are there compelling reasons for companies to continue using artificial coloring?

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6 Comments on "Consumer Group Calls Food Dyes Unsafe"

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David Biernbaum
10 years 1 month ago

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is the messenger that the majority of people “hate” because they get in the way of a continuation of the good old days when we didn’t worry about what we eat. But if we don’t kill the messenger and if we take a very objective look at what we have learned from the CSPI over the years we will discover the inconvenient truth that most of what they have warned us about has proven over the years to be very real and true. Fact is, too many people are dying of premature heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. It doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, in a lot of other cultures, it’s not!

Joel Rubinson
10 years 1 month ago

Get ready for food safety to become a big issue. The radiation crisis from Japan has put this front and center and shoppers will potentially start thinking about things they never thought about, changing their choice and shopping patterns.

Mel Kleiman
10 years 1 month ago

A simple answer to the question is YES, you will see major companies jump on the bandwagon. Easier to move voluntarily then have to deal with government intervention.

In most cases, natural food colorings are available so this move should not effect the look of the product that most people are used to.

John Karolefski
10 years 1 month ago

I absolutely see food companies making the switch from artificial dyes to natural food colorings. Now that the issue is in the mainstream press, alert shoppers will take notice.

And food companies will react.

Not too long ago, the issue of high fructose corn syrup made headlines. It didn’t take long for food companies to change their ingredients. Take a look at grocery shelves nowadays. There is a growing number of food packages with flags on the front saying, “No High Fructose Corn Syrup” or “Does Not Contain High Fructose Corn Syrup.” For food companies, it ultimately becomes a competitive advantage to make the switch and promote it.

Craig Sundstrom
10 years 1 month ago

That the Center for Scaremongering in the Private Interest might warn us about legitimate hazards is due to the fact that they warn us about everything, so their dragnet approach will turn up something every once in a while; is this one of those times??? Who knows…But maybe we could just save time by putting a warning label outside everyone’s front doors that says “Living kills” (of course inactivity kills too, so it’s quite the dilemma).

Jerome Schindler
10 years 1 month ago

Artificial food colors are required to be labeled, e.g. Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Red 40, Blue 1 etc. Physicians often advise removal of foods with these artificial colors. Most say, we don’t know if this could be a cause but it’s worth trying to see if it makes any difference. Parents with hyperactive children are thus provided the information they need to decide what to avoid. There is no reason to scare the hell out of the rest of us. There are probably more kids harmed by peanuts than these food colors. Should we ban peanuts?


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