Will the FDA ever put a stop to chemicals in our food? By Dr. Allan Spreen on 04/23/2011

A few weeks ago, a friend emailed me a link about the FDA’s decision to take a closer look at the possible link between artificial food coloring and hyperactivity in children.

“Wow!” she wrote, “Do you believe it? The FDA’s finally taking a stand!” My friend has four kids, so I can understand why she was interested.

But, ever the cynic, I wrote back, “Yes, but it’s just a ruse. They’ll review the data and then say ‘we’ve looked at it and determined there’s no problem.’ So go ahead, eat all the Froot Loops and Jello Jigglers you want!”

Sure enough…I was right.

The FDA panel decided that food coloring does not cause hyperactivity in most children. (There is plenty of scientific research that proves otherwise. To see the research for yourself, go www.cspinet.org/new/pdf/petition….)

The panel did concede, however, that artificial food coloring might affect children who already suffer from hyperactivity. They called for more research into the matter, but stopped well short of banning artificial coloring.

In addition, the panel voted 8 to 6 against adding warning labels to food products that carry eight types of food dye. (Actually, that’s a much tighter margin that I would have ever predicted!)

Apparently, it’s too much of a hassle to add warnings to food packages. According to Tim Jones, Tennessee’s deputy state epidemiologist and a member of the FDA panel,

If we put a label that long on every chemical and ingredient that hasn’t been adequately studied, you wouldn’t see the package anymore. It’s a question of relative concern and severity, and that’s a hard one.”

Okaaay…so, do I have Jones’s argument right? We can’t add warnings about these chemicals — even though we believe some kids can’t tolerate them — because it would cover too much of the food package?

Really, Tim, did you ever think about cutting out the mysterious chemicals? You wouldn’t have such a packaging dilemma on your hands. But I have bigger concerns with the FDA’s ruling and it doesn’t have anything to do with warnings on wrappers…

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