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Why Is the FDA Turning a Blind Eye to Food Dye Dangers?

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The debate about the safety of artificial food dyes has been back in the news recently, with recent studies linking chemical-based food dyes to hyperactivity, or ADHD, in children. Experts are calling on the FDA to step in with new regulations.

Two weeks ago, an FDA advisory panel voted 8-6 against new restrictions or warning label requirements for processed foods containing chemical-based food dyes. Based on their analysis, the panel said, there is not enough scientific evidence linking artificial colors to ADHD. However, several studies as well as the opinions of leading experts contradict this conclusion.

It has been suspected since the 1970s that chemical-based food additives such as food dyes or preservatives might cause ADHD symptoms or make them worse. Numerous recent studies, not to mention the experiences of many parents, support such a link.

According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a consumer advocacy group who petitioned the FDA to reassess the safety of artificial food dyes, the nine food dyes currently allowed by the FDA for use in foods (such as Red No. 40, Yellow No. 5 and Yellow No. 6) pose “a rainbow of risks.” These serious health risks include hyperactivity in children, cancer, allergic reactions and more. (I encourage you to visit the CSPI’s website for more information.)

It’s easy to understand why many companies like using artificial food dyes — they are cheaper, more stable and brighter than most natural colorings. The CSPI says that food dyes are often used to deceive consumers, as they are designed to “simulate the presence of healthful, colorful fruits and vegetables.”

For example, it was recently reported that General Mills introduced a cereal called Total Blueberry Pomegranate, which in fact, had no fruit in it at all! It was just a clever use of food dyes and sugar. Such practices and the use of artificial dyes, by the way, have been virtually banned all throughout Europe.

Who else likes artificial food dyes? Kids do. Most of the food products that contain these dyes — from soft drinks and candy to breakfast cereals and Pop-Tarts — are specifically marketed to children.

As a parent of two young children, I am appalled by the FDA’s blatant disregard for the safety of our young ones. Unfortunately, I can only surmise that this is yet another case of the FDA putting the interests of big business (in this case the large food companies) over the interests of the American people.

Of course, being that my kids are still very young, my wife and I have a lot of control over what they consume — though not total control. We work hard to only provide them with natural foods at home, and hope that they will continue to prefer to eat this way when they get older. However, what they see on TV, in the stores, at school and at their friends’ house influences their preferences. And when you start looking, it’s just amazing how ubiquitous artificial coloring is. Obviously, there’s only so much we can do as parents.

What do you think? Do artificial food dyes cause hyperactivity in children or pose other health risks? Should they be banned or come with a warning label? Please post a comment below and share your thoughts.


Josh Corn Joshua Corn – Editor-in-Chief
Josh is a health freedom advocate and veteran of the natural health industry. He has been actively involved in the natural health movement for over 15 years, and has been dedicated to the promotion of health, vitality, longevity and natural living throughout his career. Josh has successfully overcome several personal health challenges through natural means, and believes that sharing information can empower people to take control of their health so they can solve their own problems and live life to its fullest potential. Josh is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Live in the Now. Additionally he serves as CEO of Stop Aging Now, a company that has been formulating premium dietary supplements since 1995. Josh is currently working on his first book about natural health, and is gearing up to launch the Live in the Now radio show. In addition to his work in the natural health field, Josh is an avid outdoorsman, animal lover and enjoys “living in the now” with his wife and two sons.


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11 responses to “Why Is the FDA Turning a Blind Eye to Food Dye Dangers?”

  1. Jmunding says:

    Thank you for being a voice of warning. No wonder our children are being diagnosed with all these problems of hyperactivity. Having taught elementary school for years I can attest to the problems caused by synthetic dyes, flavorings etc.

  2. Shoegirl110 says:

    Follow the money tree and you’ll see why the FDA will not enforce the ban on artifical dyes. I found out first hand what these artifical dyes do & it’s heart breaking for me as a parent to watch my child when he consumes these dyes. His teachers can even tell the difference. It’s very hard to keep artifical dyes completely out of his diet because like one parent said, they get candy, cupcakes, drinks from school & friends. The sad thing, my son, doesn’t notice his behavior change but others around him sure do. His dose of Adderall XR has been reduced 15mg vs 40mg because we have been watching what he eats but if /when he consumes food with artifical dyes or preservatives (BHA, TBHQ, or BHT) his behavior changes within 15 minutes and even his meds stop working. Last year, when I went to Europe I bought a lot of their candy ,most of the stuff we get here in the US, because it didn’t have artifical dyes or preservatives in it & he had no reaction to it. Some to the stuff I bought was snickers, kit-kats, milky ways, etc. So if the companies can do this for Europeans they can do it for us! Just sayin.

  3. Avoid RED says:

    I work with elementary kids. Whenever we have a problem with kids at school…. hyper this or can’t focus that….The first thing we do is have the parents stop ALL food coloring, especially RED 3 and RED 40. NO RED ANYTHING, and have the parents stop all refined sugars and corn syrups. In 95+ % of the cases the kids settle down in about a month. Try to refine your child’s diet for a month before you place them on a drug.

    • Casie says:

      So very interesting! How amazing that educators can spot a marked change in behavior in response to the dietary elimination of food dyes. It’s great that the schools are aware of this and are being such great advocates. Hopefully it catches on on the government level soon, too.

  4. Marlene says:

    I never even once considered placing my child on a drug to deal with his hyperactivity, but we were very successful in “treating” his condition with by eliminating gluten and most sugar from his diet and adding chlorella, spirulina, and a DHA supplement.

    • Casie says:

      Hi Marlene,
      Thats great that you opted for a natural path. I understand that each parent does what he or she feels is best for their child so I am in no way dismissing those that opt for other treatments– but how wonderful that you went for a natural approach. Many parents lean towards pharmacueticals “as directed by their doctor” and it’s sad because children don’t always have their own voice yet. They don’t have the choice to go on or deny treatments and medications that can so dramatically influence their mental development, mood, hormonal make up, etc. Way to go! And glad to hear it was successful!

  5. Felicia Nigro says:

    I have a child that cannot tolerate artificial food color. I also have a child that can. Like many allergies, this is a subject that will affect some, not all. I get that. However, it would be very comforting to know that the FDA would support this “intolerance” as it is very difficult to by some groceries or visit the doctor. I went to 3 doctors in our pediatrician office before I found one that would support our finds. The others were very skeptical or flat out doubtful and rude when I mentioned it. I talked to one family that went through 17 doctors! It should not be so difficult to get treatment for a child without the use of some chemicals that our bodies clearly are not designed to process. To get Amoxicillin for a child would mean to put Red 40 in their body. In order to avoid it, the doctor had to get with the pharmacist to get a solution for Strep Throat! As far as schools, I have talked to many parents whom have had their child put on meds for ADHD because they did not have time to research the real problem for a real solution and the school demanded that they go to the doctor and check for ADHD. It’s not ADHD! It’s an intollerance, like an allergy! Medicine just covers the problem, removing food color eliminates it. If only we could get more schools and doctors to recognize this. Another mistake that I’ve seen is that people assume that it is only Red 40. As this is a big culprit, there are some that only react to Yellow 5. My child reacts to reds, yellows and carmel color.

    I am very thankful for the support that is being shown recently. I pray that more knowledge and education can be found.

  6. Marcia says:

    I’ve seen what synthetic dyes can do to the behavior of children. A warning label is the least the FDA can do.

  7. Rkelly19 says:

    I discovered that my kids became wild hooligans after eating/drinking anything with red or blue food dye in the late 70’s when they were small. Packaged food preservatives also produced the same behavior, so those items were pretty much eliminated from our diets back then. They now say as adults that they still get ‘high’ from those items. I believe this has been a major issue for many many years and most are so busy dealing with the doctors and the resulting health issues stemming from these unhealthy items in the ‘normal’ diet, that they can’t see the forest for the trees. My youngest child (who never had canned/jarred baby food -except rice cereal) has been raising her children the same way. My oldest daughter has not and has experienced issues as a result of not making the changes and is now considering making the changes.

  8. Susieontheroad says:

    I am certain that food dyes cause hyperactivity and oppositional disorders.  My children are fed very healthy mostly natural/dye free foods, but on the rare occasion I give in to their desires to try this or that, I barely recognize my own children for the behavior they display.  I also work with young school age children and I see the lunches they bring to school.  I can surmise how they will behave the rest of the day by their lunches.  Their is a stark relationship between behavior and diet in my opinion.

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