Why FDA is facing renewed pressure to ban red dye in food


(WXYZ) — The Food and Drug Administration is facing increased pressure now that California passed a bill to ban red dye No. 3 in food.

Last year, 24 organizations submitted a petition to the FDA requesting the synthetic food coloring be removed from the list of approved additives due to concerning health risks.

Back in 1990, the FDA stopped allowing the use of synthetic food coloring red No. 3 in cosmetic products like lipsticks and medicated creams or ointments. That’s because a study showed that high amounts of the dye could lead to cancer in rats.

So why is it allowed in food? Well it’s because of a loophole known as the Generally Recognized as Safe rule. That means certain additives are allowed if they meet criteria that experts have deemed safe for consumption.

The problem is this fake red dye, which is made from petroleum, has been used in food products since 1907. Now, around 3,000 different foods contain it. And it’s not just junk food like Dubble Bubble gum, Trolli gummies, Nerds or cake mixes and sodas. It’s also in products like protein shakes, strawberry-flavored milks and even instant rice and some potato products.

Companies use it because it’s a vibrant color that grabs people’s attention and makes the products look more visually appealing.

California’s Environmental Protection Agency looked at 25 studies on synthetic dyes, and more than half showed that when kids ate foods containing the dyes, there was a negative impact on behavior.

In one particular double-blinded study, kids between the ages of 3 and 9 drank either a colorful drink with fake food colors or were given a drink without any dyes. And the researchers found that drinks with synthetic dyes made the kids more hyperactive. This can have a real impact on attention spans and learning.

One particular association that is dedicated to improving the health of kids is the American Academy of Pediatrics. They have been telling parents for years to cut back on sugary drinks, juices and candy that kids consume because they, too, concluded that many of these foods have synthetic dyes in them, which may affect how kids behave and pay attention.

So that’s why health advocates are pushing to remove the dye from the food supply nationwide. And in my opinion, it’s time for the FDA to take a look at the new evidence and make decisions that are best for the health of America, especially our children’s health.


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