Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Children and Food Coloring

Artificial food coloring and I do not get along.  Or rather, Hannah and artificial food coloring do not get along.  If she eats something with food dye it only takes a few hours before she starts bouncing off the walls, fidgeting constantly, and talking back.  This is not normal behavior for Hannah. 

Hannah isn't the only child that reacts this way to artificial food coloring.  Research has been conducted since the 70's that shows that food dyes cause hyperactivity, allergic reactions, and cancer.  Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 are the three most widely used dyes.  According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest they are also carcinogens.  The FDA even admits that Red 3 is a carcinogen.  I guess they just don't care.  Or are afraid of the food manufacturers.  Either way, it is still legal.

Last week Britain began requiring warning labels on foods containing food coloring, much the way that cigarette's require labelling in the United States.  The label states "May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children".  Companies do not want to place the warning label on their products so they are changing their recipes.  For example, a McDonald's strawberry sundae sold in America contains red food coloring.  In Britain the sundae is colored with actual strawberries.

If American companies can manufacture foods without food coloring for other countries why are they still selling inferior products here?

15 million pounds of food colorings are added to products every single year.  Dyes do not add any nutritional value or improve food safety.  Their sole purpose is marketting. 

I really try to keep artificial food colorings out of my house.  Hannah can't tolerate them and, honestly, they aren't worth the potential health risks.  The problem is when we are out and about.  We were at a party this past weekend and Hannah was offered a yogurt.  All the other kids were eating this dye-filled yogurt and Hannah really wanted one.  I let Hannah eat it because I didn't want her to feel excluded but I really struggled with the decision.  We all paid the price the next day when Hannah could not control herself.  I hope that at some point she makes the connection between certain foods and that out of control feeling.  The FDA needs to ban food coloring so that NO child is exposed to these horrible chemicals.


Fairion said...

Interesting. I did not know that Britain had been successful in getting companies to modify their formulas. I do hope it catches on here.

Cait said...

If American companies can manufacture foods without food coloring for other countries why are they still selling inferior products here?

The simple answer is - because it's cheaper. We as a society want cheap and convenient, regardless of the health risks involved, and it's hardly limited to food.