Pediatric Organization Finally Admits Food Colors Damage Children’s Health

Before adding food color to your child’s next birthday cake or rewarding them with that neon-colored baked good from the local bakeshop, you might want to reconsider. After decades of research linking food colors and dyes to harmful health conditions in children, finally the American Academy of Pediatrics admits food colorings are not the harmless stuff most people consider them to be and may actually be dangerous to children.

In a new study published in their journal Pediatrics, the organization outlines some of the issues. Food colorings have been linked to a whole host of health problems, including attention deficits, memory problems and even cancer. I’ll explain the best ways to avoid food colorings and why it is essential to keep kids off them.

There are currently 9 artificial food colors approved for use in the United States, including: Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Red 3, Red 40, Citrus Red 2 and Orange B. Their use has increased 500% between 1950 and 2012 and are often used in baked goods and candy that is marketed to children—the people who are most at risk of suffering from their health effects.

Blue dye 1 may cross the blood-brain barrier—a protective mechanism in the body to protect the brain from harmful chemicals. However, if toxic chemicals gain access to the brain they may cause inflammation or act as excitotoxins—chemicals that literally excite brain cells to death. Insufficient research has been done on the effects of blue dye in food.

While the admission of the dangers of food colorings is a step in the right direction, it has been a  lengthy delay that may have resulted ADHD or other health issues in many children. The American Academy of Pediatrics’ study follows decades of other studies that showcase the many harms of food dyes and colors. A study published in the medical journal Prescrire International found that artificial food colors are linked to hyperactivity in children.

Another study published 24 years ago in the Annals of Allergy found that artificial food colors are a direct link to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)—a condition that sadly now affects 6.4 million children aged 4 to 17. The situation has reached epidemic proportions and has risen by a whopping 42 percent between the years of 2003 and 2011.

The condition is characterized by difficulty concentrating or focusing, difficulty remaining still, having trouble being organized and being forgetful of tasks. It often coexists with other health conditions including: learning disorders, bedwetting, antisocial behavior, substance abuse, among others. While it can affect any children, ADHD is four times more likely to be diagnosed in households where English is the primary language as households where English is the second language.

While there are many possible factors involved in ADHD, clearly ingesting food colors is a serious threat to children. Yet, regulators continue to do almost nothing to stop the rise in serious health conditions linked to food colors and other additives. The government currently allows 10,000 chemicals to be added to food in the United States under the 1958 Food Additives Amendment to the 1938 Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act.

Over 93 percent of these chemicals have never been tested for their potential dangers to humans. Instead, the government has used a system whereby chemicals are classified as GRAS or generally recognized as safe, when indeed few of the chemicals added to foods have ever even been explored for their safety.

That’s a complete failure on the part of regulators, whose job is to protect the safety of people, especially the most vulnerable—children. Allowing the use of toxic and potentially toxic chemicals in the food of children whose brain, nervous system, reproductive system and immune system are vulnerable during the formative years, is nothing short of child abuse. That’s simply unacceptable. It’s time the current government take action against the chemicals allowed in foods, particularly to those foods and prepared foods that are mainly targeting children.

Related Stories:


Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the publisher of the free e-newsletter World’s Healthiest News, the Cultured Cook, co-founder of BestPlaceinCanada, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: Be Your Own Herbalist: Essential Herbs for Health, Beauty, & Cooking.  Follow her work.


dr. cook, michelle schoffro cook, nutrition, healthy eating, diet, psoriasis, skin condition, bones, healthy bones, osteoporosis, mediterranean diet, healthy diet,


Elizabeth M
Past Member 1 months ago

many thanks.

Sophie A
Sophie A2 months ago

thanks very much

Sara S
Sara S2 months ago

Why not just let the food have it's natural color? It's the healthiest way.

Teresa W
Teresa W2 months ago

The only surprising thing is how late it happened!

Chad Anderson
Chad A2 months ago

Thank you.

Janis K
Janis K2 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

Bill Eagle
Bill E2 months ago

Scary information. It is a shame that they allow these colors to be put into our foods.

Leo C
Leo C2 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

Dr. Jan Hill
Dr. Jan H2 months ago


Kathy G
Kathy G2 months ago

Thank you