The FDA and Food Dyes

When a doctor from the Mayo Clinic informed me in February 2008 that Reagan's vertigo was more a migraine issue than an ear problem, he suggested that Reagan avoid foods with additives like artificial sweeteners, MSG, and dyes. While the unofficial diagnosis certainly didn't consider our environmental factor or ask why an 11-year-old would suddenly develop migrainous vertigo, it did help us make the connection between diet and symptoms.

When Reagan experienced a major vertigo attack with a simple piece of chewing gum, I became a believer in the toxicity of artificial sweeteners. When he experienced an even bigger episode after some store-bought birthday cake, I no longer questioned the risks of refined sugars and food dyes.

It soon became apparent that our son Brandon was not helped by these foods, either. That same birthday cake caused him to bounce off the walls and become uncontrollable.

The more I studied neurotoxins (nerve poisons) and their negative effects on health, the more convinced I became that our family needed a complete lifestyle change. Leaving our mold environment would not be enough. According to this article in Natural News:

Almost everything in every kind of grocery store has additives that can cause reactions including asthma attacks, obesity, tinnitus, and restless leg syndrome. While 1 out of every 4 people is sensitive to neurotoxic food additives, only 1 in 250 is aware that these additives are the source of the reactions they are having.

This week the FDA held a series of hearings with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) in an effort to hear again the evidence linking food colorings to hyperactivity in children. According to this article published today in Money Times,

In an unforeseen reversal of stance, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has asked a panel of experts to review evidence linking food color to behavioral problems.

This is good news for consumer groups like the CSPI.

CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson said, “The purpose of these chemicals is often to mask the absence of real food, to increase the appeal of a low-nutrition product to children, or both. The continued use of these unnecessary artificial dyes is the secret shame of the food industry and the regulators who watch over it.”

In its latest petition, the CSPI has asked the FDA to ban Yellow 5 and other food dyes, or at least post mandatory warning label on foods containing them.

Many believe it is the June 2010 report of CSPI, titled Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks, that has in fact triggered this federal rethink.

According to the report, most widely used dyes, such as Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 are contaminated with known carcinogens.

The report pointed out that Blue 1, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 also have a long history of causing allergic reactions in some people.

NPR published a similar story this week highlighting some of the foods and their respective dyes.

ProductDyeCommon NameFound In

Red No. 40Allura RedThe most widely used food dye in terms of pounds consumed, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Found in cereal, gelatin, candy, baked goods.

Mountain Dew
Yellow No. 5TartrazineThe second most widely used food dye, according to CSPI. Found in soft drinks, pudding, chips, pickles, honey, mustard, gum, baked goods, gelatin and other foods.

Reese's Pieces
Yellow No. 6Sunset YellowThe third most widely used food dye. Found in cereal, orange soda and other beverages, hot chocolate mix, baked goods and many other foods.

Maraschino cherries
Red No. 3Erythrosine BCandy, popsicles, cake decoration and other baked goods, maraschino cherries

Blue M&Ms
Blue No. 1Brilliant BlueIce cream, canned peas, candy, drinks, dessert powders, mouthwash

M&Ms (darker blue ones)
Blue No. 2Indigotine, Indigo CarmineWidely used to color beverages, candy and other foods.

Cotton candy
Green No. 3Fast Green FCFOne of the least used food dyes, according to CSPI. Found in canned peas, vegetables, fish, desserts, cotton candy and other candy.

Sausage casing
Orange B  Hot dog and sausage casings. According to CSPI, batches of Orange B haven't been certified for use in at least a decade.

Let's hope the FDA listens and takes action.