In a brave move, state legislators in Maryland have started a process to ban and/or label several artificial food colorings linked with ADHD and hyperactivity in children:
Two bills are scheduled to be considered at hearings in Annapolis on Wednesday, including one that would require food manufacturers to add a warning label prior to an outright ban in 2012, and another that would prohibit the use of the colors in school foods.
If the legislation is approved, food products containing the colors would be required to carry the label: “Warning: The color additives in this food may cause hyperactivity and behavior problems in some children” effective from January 1, 2010, and be phased out by December 31, 2011.
The colors affected are Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Orange B, and Red 3.
The ban / labeling acts are considered after studies have shown the direct relationship between these food colors and behavioral problems in children.
What you need to know:
Food coloring provides little or no nutritional benefits, but many marketing ones. It makes food look better, fresher, tastier, and ultimately may sway a consumer to make a purchasing decision.
Some food colorings are made from natural ingredients, such as paprika, turmeric, and saffron. However, these are expensive, and sometimes interact with a food.
Enter chemistry. Artificial food colorings have been around for decades, and so, it seems have the problems they created. They are cheap and effective in achieving their marketing goals. In the late 60′s and early 70′s many artificial food coloring such as Red #1 and Yellow #3 were banned due to cancer and heart disease risks. In the mid 70′s research into behavioral consequences of usage pointed to disturbing data.
The current list of primary colors approved by the FDA includes:
Blue #1 – Brilliant Blue FCF, E133 (Blue shade)
Blue #2 – Indigotine, E132 (Dark Blue shade)
Red # 3 – Erythrosine, E127 (Pink shade)
Green # 3 – Fast Green FCF, E143 (Bluish green shade) – rarely used
Yellow #5 – Tartrazine, E102 (Yellow shade) – very widely used, especially in candy and junk food
Yellow #6 – Sunset Yellow FCF, E110 (Orange shade) – very widely used in beverages and candy
Red #40 – Allura Red AC, E129 (Red shade) – most widely used, especially in junk food
Some of these food colorings are banned in Europe. Blue #1, is banned in Belgium, France, Germany, Sweden, Austria, Norway and Switzerland. Green #3 was banned after it was linked to bladder tumors.
What to do at the supermarket:
Artificial Food colorings appear in THOUSANDS OF FOODS.
Examine the ingredient label carefully. The food coloring will appear towards the end of the list, as only a tiny amount is required to create the required effect. Try to avoid foods with colorings that are questionable:
Remember, the less processed a food product is, the less chances of finding artificial anything in it.
sources: FDA, CSPI, Wikipedia
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