Artificial food dyes have been a very controversial topic for years now. These chemical colorings carry many problems with them straight into our food supply. Unfortunately, one of the most concerning problems surrounding artificial colors is that they’ve almost certainly been linked with hyperactivity and behavioral problems in children. Unfortunately, according to new information coming from the FDA, this important message hasn’t reached everyone just yet.
Nearly every child in America is exposed to Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, and Blue 1, according to a new estimate of Americans’ exposure to the controversial chemicals released by the Food and Drug Administration. For children who consume a lot of dyed foods, the estimate of the amount of Red 40 alone exceeds the amount of total dyes sufficient to trigger hyperactivity and other adverse effects on behavior in some studies.
The results were first released at a poster session held at a conference sponsored by the American Chemical Society on August 13. FDA has not yet published the full results and says the assessment is ongoing.
This meal of Hamburger Helper (2 cups), salad with Kraft Creamy French dressing (4 T.), and Powerade Orange (8 oz.) contains 47.5 mg of artificial food dyes. Behavioral tests found as little as 30 mg can trigger hyperactivity or ADHD symptoms in sensitive kids.
“Such widespread exposure to artificially colored foods is bad news for all children, since artificially colored foods aren’t healthy foods in the first place,” said Center for Science in the Public Interest senior scientist Lisa Y. Lefferts. “The FDA is failing kids and parents by allowing the use of these purely cosmetic chemicals in food, which trigger behavioral problems in some children, as even FDA conceded in 2011.”
The FDA tested more than 580 foods whose labels indicated they contained artificial colors, and matched the test results with government data on food consumption for those products, to produce exposure estimates for the general population, young children, and teenage boys. The estimates only include foods that contain dyes, and only include data for people who consumed those foods over a two-day period. The agency has not yet publicly disclosed the brand names of the tested foods.
FoodFacts.com is difficult for parents to be vigilant about eliminating food dyes from their families’ diets. Often it can be a daunting proposition. And often, if your child isn’t affected by smaller levels of artificial colors, it’s easy enough to think this might not be a problem for your family. But it’s important to remember that the studies that have been conducted point to the idea that it isn’t just kids with ADHD who are affected by artificial colors. These chemicals can trigger hyperactivity and behavioral problems in ANY child. If that’s not enough to keep foods with artificial colors out of your home, you can throw in the additional problems associated with colorful processed foods. Things like migraines and facial swelling in adults, the possibility of carcinogenic contaminants, and DNA in mice included in certain animal studies and you can easily see the importance of keeping artificial food dyes out of your diet.