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Food Additives: color and preservatives

30 June 2009 1,268 views No Comment

The confectionery industry is aware of the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s (CSPI) recent petition to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to ban artificial food dyes linked to behavior problems. CSPI’s petition asks the FDA to require a warning label on foods with artificial dyes while it consider CSPI’s previous request to ban the dyes outright. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration maintains that these food dyes are safe.

Food colors, both artificial and natural, are used in many food products, including some candies. All food colors used in food production meet stringent requirements of the FDA and are safe for human consumption. Additionally, food colors must be labeled clearly on the ingredient statement. The current labeling gives consumers the option to follow a food dye-free diet.

Previous research unearthed little evidence that FDA-approved artificial food colors or food additives produce any negative health effects with the exception of allergic type reactions in certain susceptible people.  In the 1970s, some scientists suggested that food additives, such as food colors, might be linked to childhood hyperactivity.  Subsequently, many well-controlled scientific studies failed to produce evidence that food additives cause hyperactivity.  In 1982, a panel of the National Institutes of Health concluded that there was no scientific evidence to support the suggestion that colorings or additives cause hyperactivity.

In September 2007 a U.K. study was released that explored the connection between some food additives, including coloring, and behavior changes in children. The study out of the U.K. is the first to show evidence otherwise. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the European Union food regulatory agency, assisted by behavioral and other experts, conducted a thorough review of the McCann study and concluded in March 2008 that the effects were small and inconsistent and their clinical relevance was unclear. European regulators remain supportive of the use of these color additives and sodium benzoate in all foods. The candy industry, as part of the overall food industry, will pay close attention to any new developments and continue to work closely with the Food and Drug Administration.

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