I love the look of fresh food almost as much as the taste. Some people say you eat with your eyes, and I understand this concept. Bright berries, multi-colored tomatoes and corn, and brilliant pumpkins and squashes provide a rainbow of nutrition and delicious taste. Once you leave nature’s kaleidoscope of colored food and turn to the packaged, prepared and processed offerings, the colors become more ominous, according to a new study out of Purdue University.
A previous study entitled “A Rainbow of Risk” on food dyes published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s (CSPI) have shown that blue dyes 1 and 2 have been linked to cancer in animal tests. Red dye number 3 caused thyroid tumors in rats, green dye number 3 is linked to possible bladder cancer and other tumors in rats and yellow dye 6 is linked to possible adrenal and testicular tumors in rats. And, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s (CSPI) study on food dyes, “The three most widely used dyes, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6, are contaminated with known carcinogens. Another dye, Red 3, has been acknowledged for years by the Food and Drug Administration to be a carcinogen, yet it is still in the food supply.” Food labels list artificial dyes among ingredients on the packaging but the actual amounts are not stated.
The new research from Purdue University, published in Clinical Pediatrics, reveals the startling amounts of dyes in foods targeted at children, such as cereal, processed cakes, candies and macaroni and cheese. Researchers found that meals containing one or more dyed foods and even single servings of certain food items contain more dye than that required to negatively affect some children. Imagine kids eating this stuff week in and week out, month after month.
In my new book, Weekend Wonder Detox, I ask parents to look at the setting for a typical child’s birthday party. The probability of the cake, cookies, fruit juice and soda containing artificial dyes for color is extremely high. Even the cheese on the pizza may be artificially colored. Food “manufacturers” know that kids find bright colors attractive and that they will believe these foods taste better. Most parents don’t realize that these dyes contribute to behavioral impairment and other health problems for their children.
The Purdue researchers reaffirmed that people will react to different amounts of food dyes, with 30 milligrams causing a modest number of children to react. By the time the amount reaches 100 milligrams, a larger percentage can be affected. The danger is that a single bowl of cereal, a package of colored candies, or a sports drink can all contain over 30 milligrams of synthetic dyes each.
According to Michael F. Jacobson, Executive Director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), “Until now, how much of these neurotoxic chemicals are used in specific foods was a well-kept secret. I suspect that food manufacturers themselves don’t even know. But now it is clear that many children are consuming far more dyes than the amounts shown to cause behavioral problems in some children. The cumulative impact of so much dyed foods in children‘s diets, from breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, is a partial reason why behavioral problems have become more common.“
The CSPI’s “A Summary of the Science Linking Food Dyes with Impacts on Children’s Behavior” cites evidence that three separate meta‐analyses, including one sponsored by an arm of the food industry, have concluded that dyes can trigger hyperactivity or ADHD symptoms in sensitive children. Equally disturbing, the Purdue researchers indicate that the amount of artificial food dye certified for use by the Food and Drug Administration has increased five-fold, per capita, between 1950 and 2012. They also estimate than many children can easily consume between 100 and 200 milligrams of synthetic dyes daily. The mounting evidence begs two questions: why are food manufacturers still putting dangerous synthetic dyes in processed foods? Why does the government let them?
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