The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) on June 2 petitioned the FDA to ban several food dyes, alleging a link between them and hyperactivity and behavior problems in children.
The dyes are Yellow 5, Red 40, Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Orange B, Red 3, and Yellow 6. CSPI said several of them already are being phased out in the U.K.
“Synthetic food dyes have been suspected of disrupting children's behavior since the 1970s, when Dr. Ben Feingold, a San Francisco allergist, reported that his patients improved when their diets were changed,” CSPI reported. “Numerous controlled studies conducted over the next three decades in the United States, Europe, and Australia proved that some children’s behavior is worsened by artificial dyes, but the government did nothing to discourage their use and food manufacturers greatly increased their reliance on them.”
CSPI cited a number of studies that make the link between the dyes and children’s behavior. The group also quoted FDA figures that say “the amount of food dye certified for use was 12mg per capita per day in 1955. In 2007, 59mg per capita per day, or nearly five times as much, was certified for use.”
The Grocery Manufacturers Assn. immediately responded. “The safety of food dyes has been affirmed through extensive review by the U.S. FDA (via the food additive review process) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and neither agency recommends a change to current policy,” said Robert Brackett, chief science officer. “In addition, U.S. and international scientific reviews have determined that there is no demonstrable link between food dyes and hyperactivity among children.
“To date, the overwhelming majority of scientific evidence confirms the safety of certified food dyes and their lack of effect on behavior in children. As for the study cited in the petition filed by the Center for Science in Public Interest, EFSA reviewed the findings, noted considerable uncertainties, absence of clinical significance of behavior changes, and lack of discrete evaluation of individual colors or additives. EFSA concluded that the study did not support a change in current policy on the studied food colors and additives,” Brackett said.
“Based on these findings, there is no need for consumers to alter their purchasing and eating habits and they and their children can safely enjoy food products containing these food colors,” Brackett concluded.