Food coloring has been in the news a lot lately, thanks to last week’s U.S. Food and Drug Administration panel discussing the safety of using artificial colors in food. 1
Last Thursday, the panel judged that there is not enough scientific evidence to link artificial colors with hyperactivity.
One of the panel’s members, Tennessee’s deputy state epidemiologist Tim Jones said, “If we put a label that long on every chemical and ingredient that hasn’t been adequately studied … you wouldn’t see the package anymore.” 2
Isn’t that a completely frightening disclosure about processed foods in America?
In 2007 The Lancet, a leading medical journal in the United Kingdom, studied and proved that common artificial food colors and the preservative sodium benzoate all are linked to hyperactivity in children – even children not prone to hyperactivity. 3
Since the study, additional research has prompted warning labels for foods in the U.K. that contain artificial dyes. The warnings state that the colors “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”
It’s not like natural colors can’t be used in products. In the U.K., food is made with natural food coloring. In fact, different versions of the same products are sold in the United Kingdom and the United States. British varieties have natural coloring while the same American product contains artificial coloring.
Some American products are starting to change. For instance, Necco Wafers are made with natural coloring from produce like beets and red cabbage. And Frito-Lay is switching from artificial colors and flavors to natural ones in more than 60 products – but not in their Doritos or Cheetos, though. 4
Even though some American companies are changing for the better, the use of artificial colors in food has risen by 50 percent since 1990. 5 It’s virtually impossible to avoid food additives like preservatives and colors – more than 3,000 currently are used in the United States, 6 and all processed food, drinks, and most medications include additives. 7
It’s important to remember why food coloring is deemed necessary – it’s all because of the unnatural and unappealing appearance of processed foods.
Without food coloring, consumers would notice that processed foods lack vibrant colors that so many fresh foods have. And forget about processed foods without preservatives or artificial flavors. Without the fake additives, the food would spoil quickly like fresh food, have odd flavors and/or not be very flavorful.
If you skip the processed foods and stick with fresh choices, you don’t have to worry about the dangers or need for artificial colors and flavors.
If you enjoyed this post, you may be interested in reading Questioning the integrity of organics about the U.S. FDA’s organic standards.
4. and 5. “Food dyes’ favor fades as possible links to hyperactivity emerge.” Lyndsey Layton. The Washington Post. March 25, 2011.
Latest posts by Hilary Kimes Bernstein (see all)
- The Day I Realized Healthy Choices Don’t Guarantee Health - July 21, 2015
- Avoid Synthetic Bug Sprays with All-Natural Repellents - July 16, 2015
- The Day I Learned I Could Cook Real Food - July 13, 2015