FDA advisers want more study of food dye-ADHD link
March 31st, 2011
04:09 PM ET

FDA advisers want more study of food dye-ADHD link

A Food and Drug Administration advisory committee decided Thursday there is insufficient evidence to support a link between artificial dyes in foods and children with ADHD.  The committee will make no recommendation to ban or regulate dye additives found in food products. But the committee did stress that there seems to be a trend with artificial dyes and side effects in children and that more research is needed.

Over the past two days the committee has heard testimony on dyes and how they cause some children to show signs of hyperactivity.  The question before the committee: Is there enough evidence to connect artificial dyes and hyperactivity and, if so, should it recommend that the FDA strengthen its regulations on these ingredients?  The committee's response seems to be  "Not now."

According to the experts who testified, European companies already are dropping dyes including Blue #1, Yellow #5 and #6 and others and substituting natural colorings  for them. But the United States still allows artificial dyes, mostly for aesthetic reasons, not for taste, the experts say.

There are eight dyes now being used in the United States; Citrus Red 2, Red 3, Red 40, Blue 1 & 2, Green 3 and Yellow 5 & 6. They can be found in numerous food products from packaged macaroni and cheese to Easter candy.

Critics had called for either a ban or more explicit labeling. “Why are these dyes in these foods anyway?” asked Michael Jacobsen, executive director of the Center for Science and the Public Interest, a watchdog group on nutrition and food safety. “I would push for having them taken out completely. But if that can’t be done, why not warn the public and parents that these dyes could have some effects?”

The idea that dyes in food causes ADHD was first noted in "Why Your Child is Hyperactive," a book written by Dr. Benjamin Feingold in 1975. The eating style described in the book became known as the Feingold Diet. He found if you eliminated artificial food dyes and additives in American diets, cases of hyperactivity in children, later defined as ADHD, would decline. But reviews of the data found that the correlation between dyes and hyperactivity were inconsistent.

Although numerous data have been collected on food dyes and hyperactivity in kids during the past decade, critics say the design of the studies has been weak. They note many of the studies were performed on small groups– many involved no more than 25 children. They also noted that much of the observation data (how the child acted) was reported by parents and not by clinicians. And they pointed out that most of the dyes tested were combined into a dye mixture and not tested individually.

The most recent studies to bring food dyes and ADHD back to the public eye was a 2007 project conducted by researchers at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom. It showed that artificial food dyes along with sodium benzoate (a white crystalline salt used as a food preservative) increased ADHD symptoms in both hyperactive and non-hyperactive children. That study was followed up by another paper in 2010 by the same researchers who looked at the connection between food dyes, ADHD and histamine, a chemical that’s produced in the brain when the body is having an allergic reaction.

“We found mixtures of certain artificial colors together with sodium benzoate preservative in the diet increased the average level of hyperactivity in 3 and 8/9 year old children in the general population,” Dr. Jim Stevenson, a professor at the School of Psychology at the University of Southampton, and lead author of the study, testified Wednesday.

During the hearing, parents from all over the United States shared stories about their children with the committee. Renee Shutters, from Jamestown, New York, said her 5-year-old ,Trenton, who at the time was in preschool, was an unhappy child. “He just wasn’t comfortable with himself,” said Shutters. But after talking to another parent who said her child was having behavioral issues because he was allergic to a food dye, Shutters took action. “I went through my pantry and removed everything with dyes," declared Shutters.

“Now,” Shutters says, “Trenton is fine. After two days there was a huge change. Two weeks later he felt different, much happier and six weeks later, he was a new child.”

“To give my child an artificial dye would be child abuse!” exclaimed Maureen Lamm, a doctor and mother of three from Kennesaw, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta. “He suffers that much when he eats foods with certain dyes.” Lamm has become so involved she offers a website, www.momsabcs.com, to parents to warn them about dye allergies.

But the FDA’s evaluation of studies on color additives and ADHD found there was very little strong evidence in any of these studies that showed dyes were the primary reason for a child’s hyperactivity.

“There were other factors in most of these studies that could have been the reason or could have gone hand in hand with the dyes to create these problems in these particular children, including preservatives,”said Jason August with the FDA’s Office of Food Additive Safety.

And the International Food Information Council, which is supported primarily by broad-based food, beverage and agricultural industries, says the science isn’t there.

“Without sufficient scientific evidence that a causal link truly exists between food colors and hyperactivity in children, communications that suggest a link could have unintended consequences, including unnecessarily frightening consumers about safe ingredients that are consumed every day,” said David Schmidt, president and CEO of IFIC.

After lengthy discussion the committee made its decision based on the FDA’s evaluation of study data, as well as testimony from researchers. It was the weakness of the studies, and the lack of data, that caused the committee to ask for more research and delay action on artificial dyes.

Although the committee only makes recommendations to the FDA, the agency usually follows those recommendations.

soundoff (580 Responses)
  1. dj rv center

    After going over a handful of the articles on your website, I seriously appreciate your technique of blogging. I book-marked it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back in the near future. Please check out my web site as well and tell me your opinion.


    May 12, 2021 at 16:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. travel trailer inspection near me

    Having read this I thought it was really informative. I appreciate you spending some time and effort to put this informative article together. I once again find myself spending way too much time both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!


    May 12, 2021 at 16:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. cabinet repair service near me


    May 12, 2021 at 20:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. หวยเด็ด

    I must thank you for the efforts you've put in penning this
    site. I really hope to check out the same high-grade blog posts by you later on as well.
    In truth, your creative writing abilities has inspired
    me to get my own, personal website now 😉

    May 12, 2021 at 20:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. camper repair shops near me

    Pretty! This has been an incredibly wonderful article. Thanks for supplying this information.

    http://designmaster.com.br/designmarketing/redir.php?id_cliente=193&campanha=3757&email=andre@cdlcolatina.com.br &link=https://youtube.com/watch?v=NrTtpBlRKak

    May 12, 2021 at 20:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. RV Generator Orange County

    I absolutely love your blog.. Excellent colors & theme. Did you build this website yourself? Please reply back as I’m hoping to create my own blog and would like to know where you got this from or what the theme is called. Many thanks!


    May 12, 2021 at 21:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Mercedes Sprinter Refrigerater Repair


    May 12, 2021 at 21:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. rv furniture replacement


    May 12, 2021 at 22:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. tires orange county

    This web site certainly has all of the information I wanted about this subject and didn’t know who to ask.


    May 12, 2021 at 23:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. RV Windshield Orange County

    Having read this I believed it was rather informative. I appreciate you spending some time and effort to put this short article together. I once again find myself personally spending a lot of time both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worth it!


    May 13, 2021 at 00:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Mb Sprinter Repair Shop

    Very good information. Lucky me I discovered your website by chance (stumbleupon). I have book marked it for later!


    May 13, 2021 at 00:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Mercedes Sprinter Authorized Repair Center

    Hi, I do believe this is an excellent site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I may come back yet again since i have saved as a favorite it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to help others.


    May 13, 2021 at 03:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. mega88

    Hello, just wanted to tell you, I enjoyed this article.
    It was helpful. Keep on posting!

    May 13, 2021 at 05:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. RV Remodeling Riverside


    May 13, 2021 at 07:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. RV Storage Los Angeles

    Right here is the perfect webpage for everyone who wishes to understand this topic. You realize so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I personally would want to…HaHa). You definitely put a brand new spin on a topic that has been written about for a long time. Great stuff, just great!


    May 13, 2021 at 07:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. rv collision repair

    Great web site you have got here.. It’s difficult to find good quality writing like yours these days. I truly appreciate people like you! Take care!!


    May 13, 2021 at 09:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. nearest trailer repair

    Aw, this was an incredibly nice post. Finding the time and actual effort to generate a great article… but what can I say… I hesitate a whole lot and never seem to get anything done.


    May 13, 2021 at 10:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. rv parts store close to me


    May 13, 2021 at 11:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. rv generator repair

    I need to to thank you for this excellent read!! I definitely loved every bit of it. I've got you book marked to check out new things you post…


    May 13, 2021 at 19:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. rv slide out repair parts


    May 13, 2021 at 21:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. rv furniture center.com


    May 13, 2021 at 23:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. rv parts san diego

    Howdy! I simply would like to offer you a huge thumbs up for your great info you have here on this post. I will be coming back to your website for more soon.


    May 14, 2021 at 01:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Sprinter Van Repair Shops

    I couldn’t refrain from commenting. Well written!


    May 14, 2021 at 04:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. mobile rv generator repair near me


    May 14, 2021 at 06:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. RV Leak Orange County


    May 14, 2021 at 08:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. leather repair orange county


    May 14, 2021 at 10:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Optometry Near Me

    Your style is unique compared to other folks I've read stuff from. Many thanks for posting when you've got the opportunity, Guess I'll just book mark this web site.


    May 14, 2021 at 16:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Optometrist


    May 14, 2021 at 16:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Cheap Contact Lens Exam


    May 14, 2021 at 18:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Maserati Us

    Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on websites I stumbleupon everyday. It will always be helpful to read content from other authors and use a little something from other sites.


    May 14, 2021 at 22:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Optometrist Phoenix

    I’m impressed, I have to admit. Seldom do I encounter a blog that’s both equally educative and engaging, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. The issue is something which not enough folks are speaking intelligently about. Now i'm very happy I stumbled across this during my search for something concerning this.


    May 14, 2021 at 23:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. homes for sale harrison


    May 15, 2021 at 07:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Maserati Rival Crossword

    I want to to thank you for this fantastic read!! I definitely loved every little bit of it. I have got you saved as a favorite to check out new stuff you post…


    May 15, 2021 at 08:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. car headliner repair near me


    May 15, 2021 at 12:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Maserati Stinger

    Hi there! This blog post could not be written much better! Looking through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept preaching about this. I am going to send this post to him. Pretty sure he'll have a very good read. Thanks for sharing!


    May 15, 2021 at 13:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. home for sale around me

    I'm excited to uncover this site. I want to to thank you for your time for this particularly fantastic read!! I definitely loved every part of it and i also have you book-marked to see new things in your website.


    May 15, 2021 at 15:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Content Marketing Brea

    Good post. I am facing a few of these issues as well..


    May 16, 2021 at 00:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Aika Forum

    Pretty! This was an incredibly wonderful post. Many thanks for providing this information.


    May 16, 2021 at 02:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Social Media Marketing Association


    May 16, 2021 at 04:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Internet Marketing Job

    Oh my goodness! Incredible article dude! Thanks, However I am having issues with your RSS. I don’t understand why I can't join it. Is there anybody else having identical RSS issues? Anybody who knows the solution will you kindly respond? Thanks!!


    May 16, 2021 at 05:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. aika online private server source

    I could not resist commenting. Exceptionally well written!


    May 16, 2021 at 06:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Video Marketing Business

    I need to to thank you for this excellent read!! I certainly enjoyed every bit of it. I have you book-marked to check out new stuff you post…


    May 16, 2021 at 07:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Nercedes Sprinter Repair Near Me

    Pretty! This has been a really wonderful article. Thank you for providing this information.


    May 16, 2021 at 10:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Aika Private Server


    May 16, 2021 at 10:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Repair My 2006 Dodge Sprinter 3500 Rv


    May 16, 2021 at 16:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Dodge Van Frame Repair Kit

    Everything is very open with a clear description of the challenges. It was really informative. Your site is very useful. Many thanks for sharing!


    May 16, 2021 at 18:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Transit Van Repair Panels

    You ought to be a part of a contest for one of the most useful sites on the internet. I most certainly will highly recommend this blog!


    May 16, 2021 at 21:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Mercedes Sprinter Van 2015 3500 Repair

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you writing this post plus the rest of the site is really good.


    May 16, 2021 at 23:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Repair Shops Near Me

    Good day! I just want to offer you a huge thumbs up for your great info you have got here on this post. I will be returning to your site for more soon.


    May 17, 2021 at 00:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Mercedes Benz Sprinter Repair Service

    I could not refrain from commenting. Perfectly written!


    May 17, 2021 at 01:08 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.