For Immediate Release
Strong FDA Action on Food Dyes Urged
Statement of CSPI Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson
WASHINGTON - I’m glad that after many years of denial, the Food and Drug Administration is reviewing the evidence linking synthetic food dyes to behavioral problems in children. Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, and other dyes have no useful nutritional or preservative value; their only function is cosmetic. And by "cosmetic," I mean that dyes are often used to make junk food more attractive to young children, or to simulate the presence of a healthful fruit or other natural ingredient. Surprisingly, even foods that aren’t particularly colorful—such as instant mashed potatoes or pickles—are dyed.
The evidence that these petrochemicals worsen some children's behavior is convincing, and I hope that the FDA’s advisory committee will advise the agency to both require warning notices and encourage companies voluntarily to switch to safer natural colorings. (The FDA isn't asking the committee about a ban.) Having brightly colored Froot Loops, Skittles, Mountain Dews, or pickles or anything else just isn't worth putting any children at risk.
In Europe, a law requires most dyed foods (there are few) to bear a warning notice, which is a powerful incentive for food manufacturers not to use artificial dyes. Last I heard, Europe is surviving quite well. It is to the great shame of many U.S.-based food companies that they are marketing safer, naturally colored products in Europe than in the United States.
We know things are bad. We know it's worth the fight.
You are part of a strong and vibrant community of thinkers and doers who believe another world is possible. Alone we are weak. Together we can make a difference. At Common Dreams, we don't look away from the world—we are not afraid—our mission is to document those doing wrong and galvanize those doing good. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. We have now launched our annual Summer Campaign. Can you pitch in today?