The Dark Side Of Bright Food

Resource for photo:


Did you ever see little children walking around with multicolored faces after eating some ices or candy that stains their mouth? I just cringe when I see this. And I want to ask the mother why she lets her children eat that toxic junk. But I control myself, smile and walk away. I guess I am just different. When my son was little I never gave him such things. Am I a killjoy? I don’t think so.

As dangerous as these food additives and food dyes are chemically, it is much more dangerous in what it is teaching children. It teaches children to think that brightly, artificially colored foods are better for them, because it is attractive to them. These is how childhood obesity starts.

Two studies have been published in a British medical journal that concluded that food dyes can stimulate hyperactivity in children who had no known behavior problems before. Do we really need studies to know this? I guess so. We need studies so that concerned parents can go before congress and diligently show that “science” backs up their common sense and common knowledge. Then and only then can we ask that congress ban the use of these potentially carcinogenic and neurotoxic substances from food.

In 2009, the European Parliament required foods containing the six tested dyes to carry a label warning that products “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.” Isn’t that reminisant of the warning on a pack of cigarettes? However, to avoid warning labels on their products in Europe, many foodmakers — including U.S.-based companies such as Kellogg and Mars International — replaced the six dyes with other dyes, including some natural ones made from fruits and vegetables. Wouldn’t it make sense to use dyes made of all natural substances all the time? The problem with natural coloring is that is it not as vibrant as artificial and it fades after a while. In addition it is more expensive to use natural colorings.

It’s all in the hands of the powerful food corporations and the Food and Drug Administration. That worries me. But now, at least we have science on our side. In fact, this has been taken seriously and a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee will begin a review of the research on the behavioral effects of artificial dyes. This is significant because previously the FDA denied that dyes have any influence on children’s behavior. An FDA staff report released last week concluded that synthetic food colorings do affect some children. Hallelujah!

As early as 1906, congress was considering whether or not artificial dyes were bad for us. More recently, in 1960, congress banned color additives that caused cancer in humans or animals. Red dye #3 was found to cause thyroid cancer in rats. However, lobbyists for the fruit cocktail producers were successful in keeping it in the food supply, and banned red #3 only in cosmetics and topical drugs. This is an example of how the FDA protects the public from harmful substances.

Three of the most widely used dyes; red#49, yellow #5 and yellow #6 were found to harbor likely human carcinogens in the early 1990′s. However the synergistic carcinogenic potential of multiple dyes has never been tested. And there are many products that utilize more than one color, for example M & M’s and other candy. I just don’t understand why we need food colorings at all. They sure look cool on Easter eggs, but why do we have to eat it? Teach your children to appreciate the vibrant colors in nature by presenting them with natural, real food.

See Follow-up to this article here.


This post is linked to: Simple Lives Thursday, Frugal Follies, Pennywise Platter, Fresh Bites Friday, Food Trip Friday, Fight Back Friday, Fat Camp Friday, Fun with Food Friday, My Meatless Monday, Tasty Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday Parade of Foods, Made From Scratch Tuesday, What’s Cooking Wednesday, What’s On the Menu

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  • June

    The photo of the little girl’s blue tongue really grabbed me!!! It is one of my concerns ” what we teach, by what we do.” As an early childhood advocate, I have tried to help parents see that those colorful rocket ices or cookies, pretzels,candies that are so attractive to the eye are seducing children (and adults too) but ALSO as you pointed out so brilliantly, ” a teaching moment” for the child. When we say ” NO, it is not healthy and we don’t follow what everyone else is doing – we protect your body we are modeling! Important to learn to say no to things that seduce us in life.

  • Danielle @ Analytical Mom

    This is so true. The kids at my church’s Sunday School get a “snack” of fruit roll-ups, and then show off their wild-colored tongues. No wonder they can’t focus on the lesson afterward, with all that sugar. And what lesson are they learning from the bright-colored treat? Thanks for this post!

  • Jill

    Hi June,
    Thank you for your wise comments. If only more teachers were so proactive!I’ve said this before, that I have found teachers to contribute to the problem by constantly offering rewards of candy. What does this teach children? It teaches them to see eating as a prize and this adds to the obesity epidemic, to say nothing about the neurotoxic effects of candy and sweets.

  • Jill

    Hi Danielle,
    Thanks for your comments. Parents think fruit rollups are healthy! And it is so hard to not allow your child to join in the “fun”. It’s no wonder more and more children are obese. Adults are constantly offering them junk for treats! If anything, the snack should come after the lesson. Right?

  •,uk-the-dark-side-of-bright-food.html The Dark Side Of Bright Food | CookingPlanet

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  • cheerful

    your thumbnail photo got my interest! anyway, it is interesting post and i enjoyed reading it, thanks for sharing! like you, maybe i am KJ mommy too because no candies for my kids but they tried last holiday, candy cane but lucky, they both don’t like it. they get chocolates once in awhile though! *winks* PinayMum – Mommy’s Life Around…wishing you a great Friday!

  • Vernz

    scary…. worried mom too here.. we don’t know what’sin this packets our children are eating… evil corpo.. they won’t tell you.. it’s a trade secret… that kills.!

  • Jill

    Hi Cheerful,
    Thanks for the comment. Chocolate is better. I used to let my son trade his hard candy (received from teachers at school!) for chocolate.

  • Jill

    Hi Vernz,
    Yes, we all have to be vigilant about what they tell us is “safe.”

  • MommyLES

    her tongue is so cute and the color


  • sweet european dreams

    Here’s a report that a friend of mine just sent to me regarding the FDA finally recognizing a link between foods and ADHD. Finally!

  • Jill

    Thanks! See tomorrow for my follow-up.

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