Last year, when a prominent cereal manufacturer made a commitment to take all dyes out of their cereals marketed to children, many consumer health advocates cheered. An ever-growing pile of evidence blames several common dyes (Yellow 5, Red 40, Blue 1, etc…) for contributing to serious mental health problems in children (and when studies are done on adults, who knows what will be discovered?).
Safer, more natural alternatives exist, so opponents wonder why synthetic dyes have not yet been banned—as they are already in the U.K. A new report from the non-profit, independent consumer-protection organization Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), "Seeing Red: Time for Action on Food Dyes," claims that despite the evidence and consumer concerns, the FDA has done little to prevent these dyes from being in our food.
In 2011, pressured in part by a CSPI petition, the FDA convened its Food Advisory Committee (FAC) to look at the links between dyes and children’s behavior. Not much really happened, so the CSPI report takes the FDA to task and recommends that it ban synthetic dyes from foods and beverages, require warning labels on products containing dyes, and update the FDA website to include information on the adverse effects dyes can have on some children.
In the FDA’s opinion, it is not time for mass panic about dyes. However, if you follow the findings in the UK, and CSPI’s recommendations, you may want to be extra vigilant about pouring your child another bowl-full of brightly colored food.
- Seeing Red: Time for Action on Food Dyes via CSPI
- Seeing Red: Report Finds FDA Fails to Protect Children in Light of New Evidence on Food Dyes via CSPI