Where has the FDA been? There have been concerns over food additives, especially coloring for years. Studies in other parts of the world and even banning of certain dyes as far back as the 1950’s (red 32, orange 2, etc). I even wrote a blog in 2007 that cited a NY Times article and study by Britain’s Food Standard Agency, about the link of ADHD to additives.
So finally this week in response to a 2008 letter, an FDA advisory panel will decide whether available data links artificial food dyes and ADHD. The results could lead to new warning labels on many colored foods. The article lists Jello, sugared cereals, and macaroni and cheese (what color would fake food be without coloring? – that’s the real question). But what about a ban? Wouldn’t that be safer for consumers and children? According to an npr.org article, “Food dyes are added simply for their color to make foods fun. They serve no health purpose whatsoever,” says Michael Jacobson, director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. CSPI wants the FDA to ban eight artificial food dyes. Jacobson is particularly concerned with Red No. 40, Yellow No. 5 and Yellow No. 6, which make up 90 percent of the food dyes on the market. Their use has gone up fivefold in the past 50 years. “That’s a good indication of how much junk food we’re consuming,” he says.
According to this week’s CBS news article, the government previously ruled that there is no proven relationship between food dyes and hyperactivity in most children. And the panel is unlikely to ban the petroleum-based dyes in question, such as Yellow 5, Red 40 and six others. But consumer advocates and a growing body of scientists say evidence is mounting that processed foods – including those with artificial dyes – may play a role in the inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsivity that characterize attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.
I guess we’ll just have to cross our fingers and wait and see what the panel says. However, no matter what they decide, I’ll continue to read labels and limit additivesand colorings whenever possible…and make my own macaroni and cheese (real, please!)