11:38 AM EDT, March 31, 2011
An FDA committee has begun reviewing evidence on whether or not certain food dyes affect behavior in children, particularly hyperactivity.
We're talking about chemicals like Blue #1, Yellow #5, Red #40 and so on.
While some contend that any such link is "weak," other watchdog groups say they lead to more than just behavioral changes; that they may even cause cancer. So, they ask, why do we put them in there in the first place? Especially if the dyes serve no purpose other than an aesthetic one. European companies are reportedly dropping some of the dyes and substituting natural ones.
In an effort to educate myself and eat natural, whole foods as much as possible - especially since having a child - I do try to stay away from chemical additives like food dyes. But you have to be on your game. The dyes show up in foods you might not suspect (like Nutri-Grain bars) as well as in all the likely culprits, like those brightly colored sodas and my beloved M&M's.
The reds and blues, I must confess, are fun. Still, I'd eat them if they were all the exact same color brown. Chocolate is chocolate.
For now, no established link between the dyes and any behavior or health issues has been made. The committee is expected to make a recommendation this afternoon.