Artificial Food Colors and Children

                                 Published by the non-profit, First Steps Nutrition Trust

This new report from Britain focuses on the harmful effects of synthetic food dyes on children.  Although the paper is quite long (38 pages) it is highly readable for the layperson and is ideal for students and health care professionals.

The major studies are discussed, and a history of the issue is described.

The report compares U.S. and British versions of the same products.  Kellogg’s strawberry Pop Tarts in the U.S. contain yellow 6 and Red 40, while those sold in the U.K. use beetroot, annatto and paprika.  M&Ms sold here have yellow 5, yellow 5 lake, yellow 6, yellow 6 lake, and Red 40 lake.  The British counterparts are colored with carotenoids and cochineal.

Countries in Europe list all additives – both synthetic and natural — by “E numbers.”

Although there are fewer synthetic dyes used in Europe, some manufacturers have found devious ways to hide them.  They may list the dye by its name, rather than by its “E number.”  So, the shopper might not realize that “tartrazine” is actually E102 (or yellow 5).   When a label says the food contains Red 40 or Blue 1, this is not familiar to the European shopper.

By law, the additives must be listed as ingredients, and six of the dyes must say that they are linked with attention and activity problems, but the law does not require that the font be large enough to read easily or that it be printed in a color that contrasts with the background.

While a growing number of companies are responding to consumer demands for healthy food, there are millions of children who consume petrochemicals and who continue to fail in school, and perhaps in life.  Meanwhile, the majority of professionals and politicians who claim to be concerned for our welfare, turn away from their responsibility while the food manufacturers continue to squeeze more profits out of their foodless foods.