FDA to Hold Hearing on Food Dyes, Children's Behavior

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FDA to Hold Hearing on Food Dyes, Children's Behavior

Statement of CSPI Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson

WASHINGTON - The news that the Food and Drug Administration, in response to CSPI's 2008 petition, will convene an advisory committee meeting
to discuss the link between food dyes and children's behavior is
welcome and overdue. Yellow 5, Red 40, and other commonly used food
dyes have long been shown in numerous clinical studies to impair
children's behavior. But for years, FDA-which actually commissioned one
of the first controlled studies-dismissed the mounting evidence against
the dyes.

The continued use of synthetic food dyes is hardly worth the risk.
What's the benefit? Junk food that's even more appealing to children
than it already is? Why, when we're medicating so many children for
hyperactivity, would we let food manufacturers worsen some children's
problems? Behavioral problems aside, animal studies indicating that
dyes pose a cancer risk provide another reason for banning those
chemicals.

Fortunately, a few companies are adopting smarter
policies even in the absence of government action. Starbucks does not
permit dyes in any of its beverages or pastries, NECCO has switched to
safer natural colorings for its famous Wafers, and Frito-Lay is testing
dye-free snack foods.

Food safety officials in Europe have moved much more quickly to protect children from artificial dyes. The British government has urged companies to stop using most dyes, and the European Union requires a warning notice
on most dyed foods. As a consequence, Kellogg, Kraft, McDonald's, and
other American companies that do business in Europe use safe, natural
colorings there-but harmful, synthetic petrochemicals here. I hope that the FDA's March meeting portends the end of artificially dyed foods in the United States.

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Since 1971, the Center for Science in the Public Interest has been a strong advocate for nutrition and health, food safety, alcohol policy, and sound science.

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