Why dye?: Fake Food colors not OK in UK

The dyes have it

What gives Fanta Orange soda its color? In the United States, it’s two synthetic food dyes: Red 40 and Yellow 6. In England, it’s pumpkin and carrot extract. At a U.S. McDonald’s, the strawberry sundae gets its color from Red 40. In England, the red comes from (surprise!) real strawberries.

Americans consume five times as much food dye as they did 30 years ago, according to the Food and Drug Administration. But the trend in other countries may be turning. British arms of General Mills, Kellogg, Kraft, Mars, and McDonald’s, for example, use few or no dyes.

Why? Europeans dislike synthetic ingredients, and the companies aren’t keen on putting warning labels on their foods.

Last summer, the European Parliament approved this warning for packages of foods that contain any one of six synthetic food dyes: “May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”

That was based on the results of two British studies that tested food dyes, together with the preservative sodium benzoate, in children from the general British population (and not suspected of being sensitive to dyes). (1,2) The British Food Standards Agency is urging companies to voluntarily dump the dyes.

In June, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (Nutrition Action’s publisher) petitioned the FDA to ban Yellow 5 and 6, Red 3 and 40, Blue 1 and 2, Green 3, and Orange B in the United States.

“Why should Americans continue to consume these synthetic dyes when many multinational companies are phasing them out elsewhere?” asked CSPI executive director Michael Jacobson.

“The FDA’s insistence that there is no evidence that dyes impair behavior is based on its misreading of a 25-year-old report.”

    Do companies need synthetic dyes to make their foods look good? What do you think?

Parents, if you believe that food dyes affect your child’s behavior, please write to CSPI-Dye Reports, Suite 300, 1875 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20009 or fill out a report form at cspinet.org/fooddyes.

(1) Arch. Dis. Child. 89: 506. 2004.

(2) Lancet, September 6, 2007.

DOI:10.1016/S0140-6736(07)61306-3.

COPYRIGHT 2008 Center for Science in the Public Interest
COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning

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One response to “Why dye?: Fake Food colors not OK in UK

  1. If the FDA actually followed their own guidelines, these petroleum-based dyes would never be permitted to be added to foods, medicines, dental products, etc.
    The good news is that there are naturally colored and flavored products of all types, and many of them are nearly as colorful as the fake versions. The non-profit Feingold Association (www.feingold.org) researches brand name foods and publishes books listing thousands of products of all types that are both free of the additives and delicious.

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