April 28th, 2011

Risky Food Dye Still in Our Food

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Toxic Food Dye

Yoo-hoo…Food and Drug Administration…where are you?

The FDA is MIA. One of the FDA’s prime responsibilities is to protect the public health by assuring that foods are safe. Oops-they clearly forgot to read that part of their job description.

A recent report from the National Cancer Institute showed a 9.4% increase in childhood cancer between 1992 and 2007.

Another report, issued by the Center for Science in the Public Interest,  showed food dyes—used in everything from M&Ms and Fruit Loops to Kraft Mac n Cheese—pose risks of cancer, hyperactivity in children, and allergies, and should be banned.  This month the FDA had an opportunity to act on this recommendation, but failed to do so and stuck by their long-held position that the dyes pose no risk to children or anyone else. The FDA’s decision (or lack thereof)  can be read as a flat out denial that artificial food dyes are making our children sick, or at the very least  an unwillingness to do anything about it.

Artificial food dyes have already been removed from products in other countries

You have to wonder what’s going on behind closed doors. Is there a financial incentive involved to protect the status quo?  The most absurd piece of this whole ongoing debate is that Kraft, Coca Cola and Wal-Mart have already voluntarily removed artificial food colors and dyes from their products that they distribute in other countries.

WHAT??? Yep, you read that correctly. Those companies no longer sell products with toxic food dyes in other countries-they only sell foods with toxic dye to our children, here in the United States. So let’s get this straight-they are ready, willing and able to remove the dangerous food dye and have done so in other places, but they’re not willing to do it here? You’ve got to be kidding me.

toxic food dye

The System in the US is backwards

The burden of proof should be on the corporation, but it’s not. Our system is currently set up to enable corporations to get their products quickly onto the shelves of our grocery stores. Food safety issues are often raised after-the-fact and it becomes the burden of the consumer to provide evidence showing the toxicity of the food.  Laurie David and Robin O’Brien summed it up well by saying “Let’s start assuming chemicals are dangerous until proven safe, not the other way around”.

What can we do?

  • Support companies that don’t use artificial food dye. Your pocketbook can do the talking.
  • Kraft Foods is the largest confectionery, food, and beverage corporation in the United States and they own dozens of other brands including Jell-O, Nabisco and Oscar Mayer (I’m not proud, but they are headquartered in my hometown, Madison, Wisconsin).  If you’re concerned about risky artificial food dyes, please join me in signing this petition telling Kraft to stop using them.

Let’s show these corporations that our children are important to us and we don’t need “more research” to see what these toxic substances are doing to them.

Do you think it’s possible to avoid foods with artificial food colors? Are there any other ways to take action?

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[Top photo used under Creative Commons from Jackie/Flickr]

[Nutri-Grain photo credit CSPI]

16 Responses to “Risky Food Dye Still in Our Food”

  1. Check out http://www.feingold.org It is a support group for those doing just that–we eliminate all artificial dyes from our diets. It’s beee around since 1976.

  2. Thanks for sharing the link Marcia. Looks like some pretty amazing stuff that the Feingold Group has put together. It’s certainly challenging to remove all artificial dye from your diet-but your group is proof that it is possible.

  3. It is so frustrating that there are so many natural food colouring options available (and that ARE used in the UK) but aren’t used in North America. Especially when you consider…why DOES our food have to look neon coloured? I wouldn’t mind if they added NO colouring (natural or artificial)!

  4. Hi Amy-such a good point. Why can’t we eat our food in its natural state? I think our kids are so drawn to the bright, colorful candies and treats that turn their tongues an awful blue or orange.I too wouldn’t mind no coloring at all, but I don’t think we are the majority!

  5. Scary. This is just another reason to stop buying processed food.

  6. It sure is!

  7. To think that ingesting a petroleum produce will not cause adverse reaction over time is ridiculous. Anyone would be hard pressed to find a regular food on the market that does not contain some sort of food dye. It is in everything we eat. It is said that an average human being eats about 11 pounds of toxic chemicals each year and we wonder why ADD, ADHD, Bipolar and Cancer are growing at an alarming rate. There is absolutely no reason to add a petroleum product (food coloring) to anything we eat. The only reason the manufacturers do it is strictly marketing related. They have performed studies that show the human brain perceives bright colors like we see in nature, apples, grapes, oranges, tomatoes as good for our bodies. Therefore if they add color to it and make it brighter, human instinct kicks in and our brains crave it. In reality we are slowly killing ourselves and our children.
    I absolutely hate when I read articles that state there are no studies that show food coloring is harmful. That is just the FDA’s way of saying the lobbyist have more power than you do. I have a child that began to act out with aggression and behaviors that were not natural, nor logical. We struggled for years as he was kicked out of daycare after daycare. As a last resort we took him to a doctor who diagnosed him as bipolar and put him on medication. We hated this but at the time; it was all we could do. We did not want him to hurt himself or anyone else. At one point he jumped out of a car at stoplight on a busy street because we passed a toy store and he was mad that we did not go there. After he was placed on medication, his issues lessened but did not go away completely. After about a year on the medication, he went through about a three week period where he slid back into the uncontrollable personality that he had been before the medication. I began to look at what had changed. I realized that a family member had given us a case of the little orange crackers and a case of a well known ranch flavored potato chips (I don’t want to mention names). Our kids at these standard US snacks at the rate of about 5 or six packages a day during those three weeks. I began to put two and two together and realized the common denominator was food coloring. We removed all foods with artificial food coloring, which by the way was not as easy as it sounds, and within a few days our child was calmed, sweet, and caring again. The few times he had a meltdown was directly related to a food with dye in it. One time we could not figure out why he was acting out, all he had was pizza. Then I found out there is yellow dye in pizza crust. Why you might ask? So it looks pretty and your brain tells you it is healthy food.
    I find it amazing as I look around and kids are cramming cupcakes with bright blue frosting in their mouths at alarming rates, while the parents stand there and say, “I don’t know why everyone things little Johnny is ADD. Where did I go wrong?” … Really? I challenge you to walk in your local convenience store and find an item without artificial dye and by the why “Carmel coloring” found in many products is not natural either, it just sounds like it is.
    Wake up America! The FDA has to quite playing the lobbyist money game while our children are the pawns.

  8. Right on Chris! Nice to have you comment here-about something you are clearly passionate about (me too!),

  9. […] Bubble Gum-This gum is gluten free, nut free and dairy free, kosher and doesn’t contain any artificial food dyes.  I’m a bit skeptical of chewing gum in general, but if you or your kids are going to chew […]

  10. […] a 9.4% increase in childhood cancer between 1992 and 2007) it’s mind boggling to me that artificial food dyes are still used in food- in everything from M&Ms and Fruit Loops to Kraft Mac n Cheese and […]

  11. […] forces with Healthy Child Healthy World in a petition to the Kellogg Company on the risks of food dye in fruit snacks. This petition asks Kellogg’s to take the first step in removing artificial food […]

  12. […] 9 and 7 years later-in a world which my boys will soon inherit along with some shocking statistics: childhood cancers have increased 9.4% between 1992 and 2007 and are continuing to rise. Our world is filled with toxins, chemicals and other poisons that are making our children […]

  13. […] sweet cousin in Europe? The answer might surprise you.  Many candy companies in the US use artificial food coloring for the candy they sell and distribute in the United States, but that same candy sold in Europe […]

  14. […] candy companies in the U.S. use artificial food coloring for the candy they sell and distribute in the United States, but that same candy sold in Europe […]

  15. […] a 9.4% increase in childhood cancer between 1992 and 2007) it’s mind boggling to me that artificial food dyes are still used in food- in everything from M&Ms and Fruit Loops to Kraft Mac n Cheese and […]

  16. […] candy companies in the U.S. (including Mars, Inc.!) have used artificial food coloring for the candy they sell and distribute in the United States, but that same candy sold in Europe […]

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About Lori

I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney, writer, mom of three boys and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. Join me as we work together to make the world a safer place for all.

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