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FDA Reopens Food Dyes Debate

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FDA Reopens Food Dyes Debate

Don’t let this week’s New York Times headline fool you: “Artificial Dye Safe to Eat, Panel Says.” The “expert panel” convened by the Food and Drug Administration was given the task to re-examine the link between hyperactivity in children and synthetic food colorings found in such products as Froot Loops cereal, Pop Tarts, Jell-O, and Minute Maid Lemonade. They were requested to vote this week on a possible revision of the FDA’s regulation regarding the synthetic additives, after the agency responded to a petition by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).

For those of you in the health-conscious crowd whose hopes may have been kindled a couple of days ago by this other deadline, “F.D.A. Panel to Consider Warnings for Artificial Food Colorings,” bear in mind that

  • the panel voted 8 to 6 against banning the dyes or recommending that more information about them be added to food labels. In other words, 43 percent of the medical and environmental “experts” have a dissenting opinion.
  • the decision is based on the alleged lack of iron-clad scientific evidence that food dyes systematically cause hyperactivity in children, and not on the evidence that no causal link exists whatsoever. In other words, the burden of proof is put on those who have the health of kids (and adults) at heart, not on the food industry that pumps its processed food for kids with petroleum-based dyes. Never mind that the same panelists acknowledged that the chemicals can worsen symptoms in children already prone to behavioral problems.

Unsurprisingly, “the Grocery Manufacturers Association [NOTE: the association that promotes and represents the world's food, beverage and consumer products companies] hailed the votes”, according to the New York Times.

The good news, brought to us by a somewhat better balanced article in the Los Angeles Times, is that the panel of medical and environmental experts agreed that enough uncertainty exists to justify more research. Just as importantly, the debate about synthetic food dyes has been brought back in the headlines.

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Laetitia Mailhes

Laetitia Mailhes is a French-born journalist. After many years as the technology and innovation correspondent of the French "Financial Times" in San Francisco, she decided to focus on what truly matters to her: sustainable food and farming. Find more articles and videos on her blog, The Green Plate Blog.


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7:58AM PDT on Jun 14, 2011

Food dyes are no good.

8:31AM PDT on Apr 18, 2011

hope they stop the use of food dyes!

5:19PM PDT on Apr 13, 2011

Ugh... Scary.

1:20AM PDT on Apr 13, 2011

It's sad, I don't trust hardly any of the food on market now days. I wish my mom would by everything 100% organic.

8:55AM PDT on Apr 11, 2011

thanks for the info

4:53PM PDT on Apr 7, 2011


4:05PM PDT on Apr 6, 2011

Very interesting!!

4:54AM PDT on Apr 6, 2011

very interesting. thanks.

10:05AM PDT on Apr 5, 2011

North Carolina is voting on a bill TONIGHT that would criminalize homeopaths, naturopaths, midwives, herbalists and anyone else who practices "non-conventional medicine." They would all be arrested as felons, rounded up, prosecuted and sent to prison for "practicine medicine" without a conventional medical license.

Read our full report by Ethan Huff at:

You can see the proposed language of the bill yourself at:

Your help is urgently needed:

* Forward this email to anyone who needs to know about this.

* CALL the NC Governor's office at (202) 624-5833 and loudly and forcefully insist that this bill is pure medical madness.

* Call the North Carolina House at (919) 733-7928 with the same message.

7:04AM PDT on Apr 5, 2011

21 years ago I got so sick I was not able to digest food any more. My doctor told me to avoid all food additives, especially food colouring. Within a few days I started to digest food again. For me that was all the proof I needed to believe food additives/colours are bad for us.

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