Does it comes as any surprise that the Food and Drug Administration concluded “… that the current scientific data is just not solid enough to show that artificial food dyes cause hyperactivity in most children.” On March 31, the Food Advisory Committee — a panel of outside experts in nutrition, toxicology, food science, immunology, and psychology — held a two day meeting, at the request of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). This group had petitioned the FDA in 2008 to ban eight of the nine FDA-approved food dyes, including Yellow No. 5, Red 40, and Blue No. 1. The one coloring that the CSPI is not petitioning to ban is Citrus Red No. 3, which is used only to make the skins of oranges a more vibrant color. The group also asked for a warning label saying that foods containing these dyes could cause hyperactivity. That’s what Europe did. (See my previous post about this). The committee debated the warning label idea for some time, but ultimately decided there was not enough evidence for that and it may confuse consumers. I guess they feel that consumers are really simple.
The panel focused much of its attention on a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial conducted in England that enrolled 153 three year olds recruited from nurseries, preschool groups, and playgroups, and 144 eight and 9 nine year olds recruited from the Southampton school system. For the study, the children drank two different mixes of fruit juice spiked with food dye and sodium benzoate (a preservative) and later consumed a placebo fruit juice drink without artificial dye or sodium benzoate. One of the authors of that study, Jim Stevenson, PhD, of the University of Southampton, told the FDA panel that the study concluded that artificial colors (together with the sodium benzoate) increased the average level of hyperactivity in three year olds and in eight and nine year olds. There have been other studies that support this conclusion which I referenced in my previous post. This is just another example of how the FDA “protects” the consumer. Not!