FDA to Study Food Coloring Additives…Finally!

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!)

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Food Additives and Kids (ADD and ADHD)

From Lisa Barnes

I wanted to share this article with those parents who are dealing with children diagnosed with hyperactivity and attention deficit disorder. There are many nutritionists and parents who have written about the effects of diet and specifically eliminating additives and preservatives on children’s behavior and learning abilities. Now there is a study about the role of food additives and how common food additives and colorings can increase hyperactive behavior in a broad range of children. You can read the entire article here in the NY Times. It is certainly a preliminary study, but hopefully one that will raise the discussion of additive warnings, food labeling, and eliminating certain foods containing these additives in schools.

However there is a quote that bothered me…

“Even if it shows some increase in hyperactivity, is it clinically significant and does it impact the child’s life?” said Dr. Thomas Spencer, a specialist in Pediatric Psychopharmacology at Massachusetts General Hospital. “Is it powerful enough that you want to ostracize your kid? It is very socially impacting if children can’t eat the things that their friends do.”

If you talk to any of these parents who have children with ADHD and they’ve changed the child’s eating habits and thus altered the behavior, they would certainly say it makes not only “an impact on the child’s life” but of that of the whole family. And the idea that children will be ostracized for not eating preservative laden foods?! Is this a doctor suggesting we should all succumb to peer pressure for the risk of our children’s health and well being?!
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Also see: Organic foods, nutrition, and health key facts
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook and lives in Sausalito, California.
Image: NewsTarget.com
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