The role of dye additives and its impact on the behavior of children has been under study by a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee.
After first listening to the public and the industry, the committee heard what doctors and scientists had to say on the subject. The experts state that children most definitely show signs of hyperactivity when they have been exposed to certain dye mixtures.
Although European companies have stopped using dyes including Blue #1, Yellow #5, Green #3 and others and substituting these with natural dyes , the United States still allows artificial dyes for aesthetic reasons.
In 1975, Dr. Benjamin Feingold's book "Why Your Child is Hyperactive" brought up the issue of food dyes impacting deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. The doctor stated that if these food dyes were got rid of, hyperactivity would drop dramatically.
But critics claim that the design of the studies has been weak and the data inconsistent. They said that the study focused only on small groups; the findings were reported by parents, not clinicians; and the dyes were not tested individually.
A 2007 project conducted by researchers at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom brought back attention on the issue when it showed that artificial food dyes, along with a food preservative, increased ADHD symptoms in both hyperactive and non-hyperactive children.
Although evidence is said to be weak again, Michael Jacobsen, executive director of the Center for Science and the Public Interest, a watchdog group on nutrition and food safety says artificial food dyes are not safe for humans and can be connected to numerous health problems, including ADHD allergies, even cancer.
He asks, "There are other factors that could affect child behavior, but if we can take out food dyes as a factor, why not?"
Now, the point is whether the FDA committee will ask the same question.