Kids Gone Wild! Artificial Food Coloring & Hyperactivity

Artificial colors, chemicals and fragrances all fall into the category of environmental health, as far as I’m concerned.  So we will be discussing toxins from time to time.

From the L.A. Times today: “[a]lthough there is no clear indication that artificial food dyes cause hyperactivity or other behavioral problems in children, enough uncertainty exists to justify more research, an advisory panel told the Food and Drug Administration on Thursday.

The panel of medical and environmental experts narrowly voted against recommending that more information about dyes be added to food labels. But panelists acknowledged the chemicals can cause problems for some children, including those who already have hyperactivity disorders.”

Some foods that contain the artificial dye up for “more research” by the FDA include Jell-O, Skittles, M&M’s, Mountain Dew and Fruit Loops.  Darn it, I love M&M’s.  Other foods that come to mind are gummy bears, fish, anything gummy frankly, any orange snack food (Cheetos, Doritos, Orange Ruffles), Twizzlers, sugar birthday cake decorations, decorative frosting in a tube, sodas, juices, wheatgrass (that last one was just to see if you were paying attention).  The list is endless.

To me, this is FDA speak for “start reading packaging very, very closely”.  You can tell if it’s artificial because it has a number, ala Red Dye #5, Blue Lake #1, etc..  The people on the FDA panel who were against putting warnings about food dyes on food labels, indicated that those labels would just scare people.  I’m sorry, but why is that a problem?  In my America (which, apparently, only I inhabit) citizens have a right to know if something is harmful or even potentially harmful.  If someone is scared to eat blue cake frosting, is that a crime?  I know a lot of people who are similarly scared without any FDA warnings.  I mean, what is that stuff made of?  (My English Professor Mother is rolling her eyes over my use of a preposition at the end of a sentence.  How about “what is it made of, man?”.  Is that better, Mom?).

I’m not saying your kids should never eat that stuff (though in a perfect world, they wouldn’t), but if they do, then it’s important to watch for any reactions.  It may be that your kiddies are going into orbit because of the sugar.  You could see if Baby Bonnie reacts similarly to something with just sugar as opposed to something with sugar and dye.  If the dye is helping her achieve lift-off, then avoid it (or at least avoid it before going to the library, school, church, Grandma’s house).

For more information about studies linking artificial dyes to hyperactivity, there are many resources.  I liked this article from the NY Times.

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