(Late breaking– the FDA panel voted April 1, 2011, 8 to 6 not to require labeling on foods containing artificial food dyes. I find this troubling because the FDA had yet another chance to apply the precautionary principle to protect our families and they didn’t. Since there is some evidence that artificial food colorings increase behavior problems in children, more research should be done, but doesn’t it make sense to encourage people to limit their use while the research is being conducted? In the meantime, I recommend reading ingredient labels and looking for artificial dyes, which have to be noted, and then not buying the product if they are there.)
Many of us have been concerned about artificial food coloring for years. We remember hearing about Red dye number 3 causing cancer, and try not to give our kids much brightly colored, highly processed and packaged foods. But it is easy slip up on this, especially as kids get older. And according to the video above, the use of artificial food coloring in foods has exploded in recent years.
This news makes it even more important to reconsider. As I made my daughter’s birthday cake today, I had a choice. I’m not much of a baker, so I had two boxes of cake mix in the pantry. I looked at the ingredient list– some artitificial food colorings. No good.
So I made the cake from scratch. I ran out of time and used some icing from a container, which contained some artificial coloring, but it was the best I could do.
I’m glad the FDA is considering putting a warning label on food that contains artificial food coloring. It should be clear to everyone what is in the foods we eat and how the synthetic ingredients might effect our children. This serves as a reminder to me to make sure to avoid artificial food coloring as much as possible.
I’m proud of grocers such as our local co-op, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods for refusing to sell any foods containing artificial food coloring.
When you consider how these ingredients effect kids with behavior problems, it reminds me how much food can effect our children, and our lives. If artificial food colorings improve the symptoms of a child with a behavior disorder, wouldn’t it be safe to say it could improve the attentive and cognitive performance of all children? Of course more research is necessary, but taking the precautionary approach here, by eliminating (or lessening) artificial food coloring in our food, makes sense.
What do you think? Are you lessening your family’s intake of artificial food coloring based on this news? What do you use to decorate your birthday cakes? Would warning labels help you?