Eying The Dyes

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - 3:47pm

FDA looks at possible link between food dyes and hyperactivity in children.

Advisors to the Food and Drug Administration have begun a two-day meeting to discuss the science behind artificial colors in food and whether they lead to hyperactivity in children.

The meetings were prompted by a petition from the consumer watchdog group Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Executive director Michael Jacobson says artificial dyes appear to enhance hyperactivity in kids already prone to it.

"Getting rid of food dyes is not going to solve the hyperactivity or attention deficit disorder problem. But it would reduce the problem," he says.

Fda advisors will look at whether the problem was reduced in Great Britain after food manufacturers were asked to get rid of several artificial colors.

Most companies did.

Strawberry bars purchased in the U.K. are made with paprika extract for color.

In the U.S. the same product is made with Red 40.

The Grocery Manufacturers of America issued a statement saying there's no clear link between artificial food colors and hyperactivity among children, and that "we are always producing the safest possible product for our consumers."

Experts say the use of artificial colors in the U.S. has increased by half in the past 20 years, and a fresh look at their effect is overdue.

"The regulation hasn't kept up with our consuming habits," says Georgetown University's Dr. Laura Anderko.

Frito-Lay recently announced it will switch to using natural colors like beets and carrots in half of its snacks by the end of the year.

The FDA advisors are expected to issue recommendations on food dyes by Thursday afternoon.

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