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Brits Get Treats, Americans Get Tricks From Food Companies, Says Nutrition Action Healthletter

Pumpkin, Annatto, & Strawberry Color Foods There, Synthetic Petrochemicals Fill In Here


British consumers enjoy products made by General Mills, Kellogg,
Kraft and McDonald's that are free of synthetic food dyes, but American
customers lack such royal treatment, according to the October issue of Nutrition Action Healthletter.
Despite evidence linking food dyes to hyperactivity and other behavior
problems in children, companies continue to use the controversial dyes
in American product lines while substituting natural colorings in the
United Kingdom.

In the U.K., Fanta orange soda gets its bright color from
pumpkin and carrot extract, but in the U.S. it comes from Red 40 and
Yellow 6. Starburst Chews and Skittles, which are both Mars products,
also contain synthetic food dyes in the U.S. but not in the U.K.
Similarly, in the U.S., McDonald's strawberry sundaes are colored with
Red 40 but-amazing as it might sound-real strawberries in the U.K.

"British candy has all the sugar of American candy, and it's
certainly not health food," said Michael F. Jacobson, executive
director of the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest,
Nutrition Action's publisher. "But as Halloween approaches, it's a
shame that American kids trick-or-treat for candy dyed with discredited
chemicals while British families have many of the same foods, minus the

Americans consume five times as much food dye as they did 30
years ago, according to data from the Food and Drug Administration. But
in the wake of two British studies
that found food dyes (and possibly the preservative sodium benzoate)
impair the behavior of many children, the British government pressured
companies to switch to safer, natural colorings and the European
Parliament approved a warning label for foods that still contain the

In June CSPI urged the FDA
to ban Red 40, Yellow 5 and six other synthetic dyes. The group wants
parents of children sensitive to the chemicals to file reports online
at, which CSPI will then forward to the FDA.

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.