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March 25, 2010

FDA slow to act on food dyes

Despite growing concerns about the potential adverse effects of most currently approved food dyes, the Food and Drug Administration continues to sit on the sidelines. Meanwhile, many food companies have stopped using these food dyes of concern in European markets but continue to use them for the same foods sold in the U.S. market. (See this article from the Examiner about Kraft's Macaroni and Cheese.)

This week, IATP and seven other non-governmental organizations wrote to the FDA, calling on the agency to act on a formal petition filed by the Center for Science in the Public Interest in 2008 to ban currently approved dyes, including Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Orange B, Red 3, Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6.

Last year, IATP put out two consumer tools to help inform parents about food dyes. IATP's Brain Food Selector is a database that helps parents easily find which foods contain synthetic dyes. Parents can search by brand, product type or whichever dye they're concerned with. IATP's Smart Guide to Food Dyes describes why synthetic food dyes are used, associated children's health concerns and what parents can do.

Increasingly, these dyes have been found to increase hyperactivity and other disturbed behavior in children. Synthetic food dyes are unnecessary and provide no health benefits. The European Union will require companies to use warning labels on most food dyed foods beginning in July 2010.

"The latest science indicates that even modest amounts of synthetic food dyes can affect learning in children," says IATP's David Wallinga, M.D. "We need the food industry and U.S. government agencies to catch up with the latest science and start protecting our children. Until then, parents need to be armed with information when they go shopping."

Ben Lilliston

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