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Shereen Jegtvig, MS

Bye Bye Food Dye?

By June 4, 2008

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The Center for Science in the Public Interest has petitioned the FDA to ban several artificial food colorings that may be linked to behavioral problems. There have been some studies that demonstrated behavioral changes in children who had some artificial colorings removed from their diets, both in the US and Britain. The British studies were enough to convince the British government to push food companies to use safer colorings.

While the CSPI urges a ban on some food colorings in the US, other researchers claim that artificial food dyes are safe and that no real correlation with behavior has been demonstrated. Food colorings are used to give processed foods the colors we expect to see. A cheesie snack puff wouldn't be neon orange without the right food dyes and those multicolor sugary snacks and children's cereals all contain various dyes as well.

According to the CSPI, daily food dye consumption has increased five-fold since the 1950s. Food colorings add no nutritional value to the foods we eat so there really is no need for them other than for the visual effect - which is powerful - it is difficult to imagine eating a bowl of beige Froot Loops for breakfast.

Like my thirteen-year-old daughter told me, "those kids' cereals really don't have any fruit in them, they just use bright colors to make kids think there is fruit in them."

Poll:Tell me what you think about artificial food colorings.

Comments
June 12, 2008 at 1:57 pm
(1) Steve Parker, M.D. says:

Here’s a link to a pertinent article in a major San Francisco newspaper:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2007/09/06/international/i164624D06.DTL&type=health

As for me, I’m somewhat skeptical about the adverse effects of food colorings. We had this debate in the 1970s. And we still have food dyes. Nevertheless, my personal preference is for natural food with minimal processing, when safe and available.

-Steve Parker, M.D.

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