Synthetic Food Dye Does Not Meet FDA Safety Standards, CSPI Doctors And Scientists Assert

A January 19 petition to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration signed by a panel of doctors and scientists from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) calls on the FDA to ban the use of commonly used artificial dyes in food and beverages. The experts point out that the British government and the European Union have taken aggressive action against the use of synthetic food dyes, which have virtually ended the consumption of the artificial colors throughout all of Europe. The petition claims there is important new research since the FDA last met to consider their safety in 2011.

The physicians and researchers state “the relationship between synthetic food dyes and behavioral impacts in children has become even clearer.”

“Several new comprehensive reviews of the evidence, including two meta-analyses, concluded that specifically excluding food dyes, or adopting a restriction diet that eliminates dyed foods as well as certain other foods, reduces adverse behavior in some children.”

The petition to the FDA cited a meta-analysis concluded that removing artificial food coloring could almost eliminate ADHD symptoms in one-third of diagnosed children, a review of three meta-analyses which concluded that the elimination of food dyes is a valid treatment for ADHD for some children, and many other very strong peer-reviewed studies.

The researchers and doctors claim that with this new research, the FDA is failing to “protect children from the disturbing behavioral problems caused by artificial food dyes.”

“Commonly used food dyes, such as Yellow 5, Red 40, and six others, pose risks including hyperactivity in children, cancer (in animal studies), and allergic reactions. “

In the letter to Dr. Stephen Ostroff, Acting Commissioner of the FDA, the physicians and researchers affirm that each has expertise in toxicology and/or behavioral problems in children and request “timely federal action on this important issue.” They cite studies by the Food Standards Agency of the British government which have concluded that adverse behavioral effects from artificial food coloring are seen “not just in children with extreme hyperactivity, but can also be seen in the general population and across the range of severities of hyperactivity.”

The letter said that the general population is unaware of the risks from food coloring because the FDA’s website claims “results from studies on this issue either have been inconclusive, inconsistent, or difficult to interpret,” even though that statement contradicts the FDA’s own conclusion in 2011 that exposure to artificial food colors and preservatives “may be associated with adverse behaviors, not necessarily related to hyperactivity, in certain susceptible children with ADHD and other problem behaviors, and possibly in susceptible children from the general population.”

The letter stated the FDA has a clear legal responsibility to ensure that the synthetic dyes used in foods and beverages are safe, but that that determination would require “convincing evidence that establishes with reasonable certainty that no harm will result from the intended use of the color additive.” The experts state in their letter that based on the newest available scientific evidence, “food dyes do not meet that standard.”

The signers on the letter urged the FDA to withdraw the approval of the use of dyes that might adversely affect behavior, and in the interim period, require warning labels on products containing synthetic dyes. They also requested the FDA to update its literature and website to reflect the most current research and to require “sensitive developmental neurotoxicity and neurobehavioral testing as well as other appropriate tests for new food additives.”

In a flyer, the physicians and researchers say that the amount of dyes children eat daily is more than the FDA takes into consideration and give the example that one cup of Kool-Aid Burst Cherry contains 50 mg of dyes. This is nearly twice the amount of synthetic food dye that research has shown will trigger behavioral reactions in some kids, they say.

[Image via Pixabay]