FDA Declines to Act on Food Dyes, for Now

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NEW YORK (MainStreet) – A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel declined to recommend regulatory action on food dyes Thursday, saying that evidence of a link between food coloring and hyperactivity was inconclusive.

“Based on our review of the data from published literature, FDA concludes that a causal relationship between exposure to color additives and hyperactivity in children in the general population has not been established,” the panel concluded. It did acknowledge, however, that some children with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) had their condition worsened by exposure to the dye. Still, the panel said that such behavioral effects were “due to a unique intolerance to these substances and not to any inherent neurotoxic properties.”

While the panel – whose recommendations the agency typically follows – rejected calls for labeling foods that contain the dyes, it did recommend further study of the issue. That’s at least some consolation to advocacy groups like the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which pushed the agency for regulatory action on additives like Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6.

Though the European Food Safety Authority came to a similar conclusion in 2008, the European Union decided in 2010 to require warning labels on foods containing the additives in question. For now, the FDA panel’s decision likely means that such warning labels won’t be coming to American products anytime soon.

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