Color Me Hyper?

A nutritionally conscious modern mother will no doubt be aware of recent media chatter surrounding artificial food colorings. The FDA recently convened a panel to look at artificial food colorings and their potential role in behavioral problems in children. What did the panel of experts recommend? More research.
This modern mother is hardly on the vanguard of nutritional correctness and has been known, in a pinch, to serve her children artificially orange mac and cheese or sometimes permit the consumption of blue cotton candy. (Gag.) Yet, she can’t help but wonder, do we really need to spend millions of dollars on this? Do we need a mountain of research telling us that something leads to asthma, or obesity, or hyperactivity, or grotesque warts before we decide to avoid it?
Here is where we might want to review a few facts:  (1) artificial colorings are derived from petroleum; (2) though science has not conclusively shown them to be linked to adverse health effects, they add no nutritional value; (3) they do not change or enhance the flavor of food. So, what is the upside? The value of these colorings lies in their ability to make mediocre food more appealing; the winner is not those who are duped into ingesting FD&C Yellow No. 6, but the companies who use food colorings to sell their processed products.

We shouldn’t need the government to ban artificial food colorings; we should all just have the common sense to avoid them. Imagine a world where we collectively said no. The FDA could save its research money for some thing else. (Maybe they could work on approving some life saving drugs?) Seeing no demand for chemically colored foodstuffs, food industry would see no reason to make them and could send their research staff scurrying off to invent new “food products” to entice the American consumer.  And we wouldn’t have to read another news story about it. 

Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods are able to stock entire grocery stores with a panoply of products while eschewing artificial food coloring, shouldn’t we be able to kit out our kitchens? Maybe our gummy bears and jelly beans would glow a little less brightly, but no doubt we would all adjust.  Think perspective, and be strong as the time for Easter candy approaches. 

P.S. To anyone who might claim that Cheetos without artificial orange don’t taste good, can we suggest they try a sample of Pirate's Booty?  

* photo from the fabulous food blog, Out Best Bites


Kate said...

we love pirate's booty. i agree with you that we need to use some common sense and exercise personal responsibility. one can go crazy trying to avoid food dyes, HFCS, preservatives, etc. . . I try to serve more things that come from the earth than don't. I refuse to be crazy about this or make certain foods "forbidden" for that only leads to issues down the road.

Anonymous said...

Put in the file next to deep fried foods make you fat. Can we ever expect to the government to replace common sense?

Liz Caan said...

Loved this post ...actually love all your posts.

PS: Tings are also a non-artificial dead ringer for kids devour them...right ext to Pirate Booty in the snack aisle.

EHP said...

Kate -- no total craziness here, either. Even if I wanted to be super vigilant, I'm pretty sure I no longer have the stamina required.

Wow, Anonymous, you said it better than I did.

Thanks Liz, always nice to hear!

kayce hughes said...

Well said!

Kate said...

ladies, i confess i ate a whole pack of red dyed TWIZZLERS last night. I just couldn't control myself. But I did have kale with dinner.

Amy said...

Interesting that this topic has been around for 40-some years and only now has mainstream science come 'round to agree (well, maybe sorta) with all those fringe kooky types of the 70s. Yeah, I had those fringe kooky parents.

That said, if enough of us say -- in print, or to the helpful 800-our-product number -- "We aren't buying your brand because we don't want that in our food," then things will indeed trend toward our stated preferences. I'm noticing a steadily increasing number of bread and boxed snacks in the last 3 years that have shifted away from using HFCS, for instance.

EHP said...

Laughing, Kate. I was just thinking that it's a good thing the other parents at my children's school don't read this, lest they think I am a hypocrite: we gave out colored gummy bears at the last birthday party we hosted. In fairness, that's part of what got me thinking about it, but not enough to change the party favor.

And Amy, great idea: a mass revolt via 800 number calls. Maybe it could help?

Anonymous said...

To think that ingesting a petroleum product will not cause adverse reaction over time is ridiculous. Anyone would be hard pressed to find a regular food on the market that does not contain some sort of food dye. It is in everything we eat. It is said that an average human being eats about 11 pounds of toxic chemicals each year and we wonder why ADD, ADHD, Bipolar and Cancer are growing at an alarming rate. There is absolutely no reason to add a petroleum product (food coloring) to anything we eat. The only reason the manufacturers do it is strictly marketing related. They have performed studies that show the human brain perceives bright colors like we see in nature, apples, grapes, oranges, tomatoes as good for our bodies. Therefore if they add color to it and make it brighter, human instinct kicks in and our brains crave it. In reality we are slowly killing ourselves and our children.
I absolutely hate when I read articles that state there are no studies that show food coloring is harmful. That is just the FDA’s way of saying the lobbyist have more power than you do. I have a child that began to act out with aggression and behaviors that were not natural, nor logical. We struggled for years as he was kicked out of daycare after daycare. As a last resort we took him to a doctor who diagnosed him as bipolar and put him on medication. We hated this but at the time; it was all we could do. We did not want him to hurt himself or anyone else. At one point he jumped out of a car at stoplight on a busy street because we passed a toy store and he was mad that we did not go there. After he was placed on medication, his issues lessened but did not go away completely. After about a year on the medication, he went through about a three week period where he slid back into the uncontrollable personality that he had been before the medication. I began to look at what had changed. I realized that a family member had given us a case of the little orange cheese crackers and a case of a well known ranch flavored potato chips (I don’t want to mention names). Our kids at these standard US snacks at the rate of about 5 or six packages a day during those three weeks. I began to put two and two together and realized the common denominator was food coloring. We removed all foods with artificial food coloring, which by the way was not as easy as it sounds, and within a few days our child was calmed, sweet, and caring again. The few times he had a meltdown was directly related to a food with dye in it. One time we could not figure out why he was acting out, all he had was pizza. Then I found out there is yellow dye in pizza crust. Why you might ask? So it looks pretty and your brain tells you it is healthy food. At this point we have backed his medication down to the lowest dosage and over the summer we plan to completely take him off the medication. Without food dye in his system we have seen an amazing turn around in his personality. It is like night and day. If he get any food dye we see aggression within about thirty to forty minutes after he ate the food coloring. I wish the FDA would call me. I could shoe them in just a few sessions what type of affect this has on our child.
I find it amazing as I look around and kids are cramming cupcakes with bright blue frosting in their mouths at alarming rates, while the parents stand there and say, “I don’t know why little Johnny is ADD. Where did I go wrong?” … Really? I challenge you to walk in your local convenience store and find an item without artificial dye and by the why “Carmel coloring” found in many products is not natural either, it just sounds like it is.
Wake up America! The FDA has to quite playing the lobbyist money game while our children are the pawns.
Join us on FaceBook to ban food coloring today!!/home.php?sk=group_212701462084640

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