A panel of experts on Thursday March 31st narrowly voted against urging the US government to add warnings to food dye labels, but did recommend further study into alleged links to hyperactivity in children. After years defending the dyes -- which come in sodas, cereals, and other foods -- as harmless, the FDA agreed to review the matter at the urging of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a powerful consumer group.
Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, on Wednesday applauded the FDA decision to consider the evidence.
"I'm glad that after many years of denial, the Food and Drug Administration is reviewing the evidence linking synthetic food dyes to behavioral problems in children," he said.
"Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, and other dyes have no useful nutritional or preservative value; their only function is cosmetic. And by cosmetic I mean that 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."
The dyes are even placed in foods like mashed potatoes and pickles to make them seem more appealing to consumers, he said.
"The evidence that these petrochemicals worsen some children's behavior is convincing, and I hope that the FDA's advisory committee will advise the agency to both require warning notices and encourage companies voluntarily to switch to safer natural colorings," he said.
European law requires most foods containing dyes to carry warning labels.
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