The Dark Side of Bright Food: Followup

The Dark Side of Bright Food: Followup post image

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!



This post is linked to: Monday Mania, Midnight Maniac Monday, Meatless Monday, Make Ahead Meals, Mangia Monday, Mouthwatering Monday, Grain-Free Tuesday, Real Food Wednesday, Simple Lives Thursday, Pennywise Platter, Tip Day Carnival

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Leave a Comment

  • Barbara Goodman April 2, 2011, 4:40 pm

    Great info. It’s frustrating to learn how much unhealthy food is put out there for us to consume.

    • Jill April 2, 2011, 8:25 pm

      Hi Barbara,
      The solution is to be vigilant about what you eat. Read all the labels. Better yet, cook most of the food you eat.

  • kristin April 4, 2011, 11:36 am

    oh man! how interesting! thank you for sharing this study… i think a lot of parents would like to have this information.

    • Jill April 4, 2011, 12:28 pm

      Hi Kristin,
      Thanks! I think parents should know all this.

  • Rachel April 4, 2011, 2:46 pm

    Thanks for linking this up! i’ve been making an effort to be much more vigilant about label reading and of course I cook most of the food my kids eat 😉

    • Jill April 4, 2011, 3:24 pm

      Hi Rachel,
      Home cooking is the best defense. Thanks for hosting Mouthwatering Monday!

  • Trisha April 7, 2011, 12:34 am

    Thank you for sharing the info in both posts … its sad that more people aren’t aware of this or choose to ignore it … I’ve started attempting to make most things from scratch at home, that way colored foods or not, I can control what we eat, at least most of the times!!!

    • Jill April 7, 2011, 5:54 am

      Hi Trisha,
      If you can control your food 80% of the time — that is a great way to improve your health! Thanks for commenting!