Monday the Center for Science in the Public Interest formally petitioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban eight food dyes, including the two most common - Red 40 and Yellow 5. The United Kingdom already phased out several of these dyes.
FDA Considers Petition to Ban Artificial Food Colors
The Center for Science in the Public Interest asked the FDA to ban the following dyes:
- Yellow 5
- Red 40
- Blue 1
- Blue 2
- Green 3
- Orange B
- Red 3
- Yellow 6
- require products containing the dyes carry a warning about their possible effects
- correct information given to consumers about the dyes' effect on some children's behavior
- test neurotoxicity of any new food additives and colors
Kids Favorite Foods Colored with Artificial Dyes
Food manufacturers use dyes to simulate fruit or vegetable colors. Here are a few examples:
- Kraft's Guacamole Dip - green color comes from Yellow 5, Yellow 6 and Blue 1 (not from avocadoes)
- Aunt Jemima Blueberry Waffles - blue color comes from Red 40 and Blue 2 (not blueberries)
- General Mills' Fruit Roll-Ups - fruity colors come from Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Red 40, and Blue 1 (not from raspberries, strawberries, kiwis, or other real fruits)
- Betty Crocker's Au Gratin "100% Real" Potatoes - yellow color comes from Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 (not from potatoes)
- Apple Jacks
- Froot Loops
- Fruity Cheerios
- Lucky Charms
- Post's Fruity Pebbles
- Starburst Chews
- Mars candy bars and other candies
Here's another difference: In the United States, McDonalds colors its sundae strawberry sauce with Red 40. In Britain? The sauce's red color comes from strawberries.
Most artificial dyes come from coal tar and petroleum.
Consumers Drive Food, Say Manufacturers
By petitioning the FDA, the Center for Science in the Public Interest hopes to focus the public on the synthetic food dye issue. Why? Food manufacturers responded to public pressure in the United Kingdom.
When researchers at the U.K.'s Southampton University ran trials with 200 children, they found a link between eating artificially colored foods and acting hyperactive. The U.K.'s Food Standards Agency then recommended that food manufacturers stop using several dyes by the end of 2009.
When Kraft conducted market research in Great Britain, it found Brits worried more about food dyes than Americans. (Americans worry more about calories, fat and salt content.) So, based on its research, Kraft replaced artificial coloring with natural coloring in its food products for Great Britain.
Food Dyes on the Rise
American children eat more artificially dyed foods now than ever before, thanks to the FDA approving increasing amounts of food dyes:
Dye Certified for Food Use
- 1955 - 12 mgs/person each day
- 2007 - 59 mgs/person each day
"The science shows that kids' behavior improves when these artificial colorings are removed from their diets and worsens when they're added to the their diets," Schab said. "While not all children seem to be sensitive to these chemicals, it's hard to justify their continued use in foods - especially those foods heavily marketed to young children." (Center for Science in the Public Interest, 6/2/08)