The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is currently reviewing recent studies of food coloring and its effect on children’s behavior.
In a preliminary report, FDA staff reviewers said that scientific research so far suggests that some children with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may be affected by food coloring.
Outside experts are ready to make recommendations later Thursday for the FDA to consider in the coming months. Artificial food color critics believe a ban is unlikely but are hoping for a package warning on these products.
“Why accept any impairment of kids’ behavior whatsoever? Hyperactivity isn’t just running around. It affects their ability to have friends, to study, to have a happy family life. Why impair that?” said Michael Jacobson, Ph.D., head of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which is leading the opposition to the dyes.
Sean Taylor, Ph.D., scientific director of the International Association of Color Manufacturers, told an FDA advisory panel that the research that raised concern is “very difficult to interpret. This is a very complex series of studies. They haven’t been done using any standard method.”
A labeling ban or warning would have a major impact on food manufacturers as well as Sensient Technologies Corp, a company that produces seven of the eight dyes the consumer group wants banned.
Concerns emerged in the 1970s when pediatrician Dr. Ben Feingold voiced that the artificial colors were associated with hyperactive behavior and proposed a diet eliminating them.
Critics say use of artificial food coloring has increased significantly over the last few decades. Consumer demand for natural foods, however, has pushed some companies to offer new products without added colors or with natural colors. For example, Kraft is selling products such as Back to Nature Macaroni & Cheese with natural coloring.
For parents who want to avoid artificial colors, “they are clearly labeled on the packages,” said Kraft spokeswoman Valerie Moens.
Source: Reuters and other news wires