Consumer Group Calls Food Dyes Unsafe
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
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.
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."
- Strong FDA Action on Food Dyes Urged – Center for Science in the Public
- Grocery Manufacturers Association Comments on Safety of Artificial Colors
– Grocery Manufacturers Association
- Consumer group urges ban or warning on food dyes – Reuters
- Whole Foods Market Doesn’t Do Artificial Coloring – Whole Foods
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?