A FDA panel ruled that there is not proof that artificial food coloring caused hyperactivity in most children, and concluded that products containing these substances do not need to carry special warning labels or be banned altogether.
The panel convened in response to a petition from the Center for Science in the Public Interest. The advocacy group petitioned for banning artificial food dyes because a growing number of studies suggest a link between children’s behavior and hyperactivity.
A growing number of parents of children with hyperactivity disorders say they saw significant improvement by removing artificial dyes from their children’s diet. One mother, Renee Shutters, took food dyes out of her son’s diet after being informed that her son had behavioral problems in school. “I know for sure I found the root cause of this one because you can turn it on and off like a switch,” Ms. Shutters told The New York Times. A Dutch scientist also recently published her findings that show some cases of ADHD may be treatable with diet, but the research did not focus specifically on artificial food dye.
The FDA did for the first time acknowledge that artificial food coloring may be a problem for some children who are prone to hyperactivity, much like a food allergy. They describe it as “a unique intolerance to these substances and not to any inherent neurotoxic properties.”
The Grocery Manufacturers Association has long defended the safety of artificial food dyes. It released a statement saying, “We agree with today’s F.D.A.’s advisory committee finding which determined that there is insufficient evidence of a causal link between artificial colors and hyperactivity in children.” There are a number of grocery stores, like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, that refuse to carry products containing artificial food coloring.