WASHINGTON (AP) — The FDA is examining the link between dyes found in everyday foods and hyperactivity in children.

At a two-day meeting starting Wednesday, an FDA advisory committee will decide whether available data links the dyes and the disorder. The panel will recommend Thursday whether the agency should further regulate dyes, do more studies on the issue or require better labeling of the additives. They could also recommend that the FDA do nothing at all.

The FDA has so far said there is no proven relationship between food dyes and hyperactivity in most children. But the agency said that for “certain susceptible children,” hyperactivity and other behavioral problems may be exacerbated by food dyes and other substances in food.

Public health advocates agree that dyes do not appear to be the underlying cause of hyperactivity, but say that the effects of dyes on some children is cause enough to ban the additives. The FDA is holding the meeting in response to a 2008 petition filed by the advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest to ban Yellow 5, Red 40 and six other dyes.

Michael Jacobson, the director of that group, said at the meeting Wednesday that the only reason that dyes exist in food is to trick consumers. Some manufacturers use less dyes in the same foods sold in Europe because of concerns there over hyperactivity.

“Dyes are often used to make junk food more attractive to young children, or to simulate the presence of a healthful fruit or other natural ingredient,” Jacobson said. “Dyes would not be missed in the food supply except by the dye manufacturers.”

Jacobson conceded that completely banning the dyes would be difficult, urging the FDA to at least put warnings on food package labels.

Scientists and public advocates have debated the issue for more than 30 years as the use of dyes in food has steadily risen. The advisory panel is sifting through a variety of studies over the two-day meeting, some showing more of a relationship between dyes and hyperactivity than others.

The food industry is warning consumers not to rush to judgment. David Schmidt, president and CEO of International Food Information Council Foundation, a food-industry funded group, said dyes help consumers enjoy their food by maintaining or improving appearance. Suggesting a link between the color additives and attention deficit disorder in children “could have unintended consequences, including unnecessarily frightening consumers about safe ingredients that are consumed every day,” he said. 

(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (3)
  1. emom says:

    the artificial dyes in foods and products DO cause alot of issues, Many folks can be allergic to them, 2 of the dyes that can cause an allergic reaction, is blue and red, Over the years manufactures have changed their dyes, and some have caused allergic issues. I have had issues with both these dyes and have had to eliminate them from my diet and prioducts I use. It took some time to figure out what the allergy was , process of elimination and when I found it I was stunned. did some research and found there have been many that suffer the same problem. these dyes can affect more than how children act, it can cause severe rashes and other health issues. We have an overload of dyes in our foods , drink and products we use daily, Detergents, shampoo, toothpaste, soap, cologne, candy of all kinds, chips, cereal, even your soda… I have eliminated the harmfull dyes and stay away from them, not risking the allergy problems again. But you would be so surprised on what other issues these dyes can cause. eliminate for a few months you might just see a difference in how you feel .. ITS ALL CHEMICALS FOLKS.

  2. worried mom says:

    You are so right – these artificial dyes are made from petrolium oil. Do you really want to eat something with that in it? It really causes problems with children’s behavior and attention.

  3. emom says:

    Exactly, but more so, the allergy issue can be a bigger issue, We as people suffer severe allegies and sometimes we are not totally sure what the allergy is,, I went thru months and months of test and then started to eliminate stuff, thats when I discovered the dye allergy,, I was shocked and surprised, but knew of it for many years. eliminating the culprits blue and red and slowy I got better, it took almost 6 months to get it out of my system. think about all you take in on a daily basis, dont forget medications have colors too as does vitamins. I say elimintate the dyes for a month see if you see a difference , both in moods, activity levels and allergies. If things change then you have found the culprit.

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