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. SEO Marketing Consultant

    I enjoy reading an article that can make people think. Also, thank you for allowing me to comment!


    May 28, 2021 at 02:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. RV Remodeling Los Angeles


    May 28, 2021 at 07:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Internet Marketing Specialist

    There is definately a lot to find out about this subject. I like all the points you've made.


    May 28, 2021 at 08:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Digital Marketing Agencies


    May 28, 2021 at 09:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. solar panels orange county

    An outstanding share! I've just forwarded this onto a co-worker who had been conducting a little research on this. And he actually bought me breakfast due to the fact that I discovered it for him... lol. So allow me to reword this.... Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending some time to discuss this subject here on your website.


    May 28, 2021 at 11:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Content Marketing Business


    May 28, 2021 at 13:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. RV Blinds Near Me

    Excellent article. I'm going through a few of these issues as well..


    May 28, 2021 at 13:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. rv mechanics near me

    A fascinating discussion is definitely worth comment. I do think that you should write more on this topic, it may not be a taboo subject but usually people do not talk about these issues. To the next! Kind regards!!


    May 28, 2021 at 17:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. RV Renovation Orange County


    May 28, 2021 at 20:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. RV Lighting Near Me

    I’m impressed, I have to admit. Rarely do I encounter a blog that’s equally educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. The problem is an issue that too few men and women are speaking intelligently about. I'm very happy that I came across this during my search for something regarding this.


    May 28, 2021 at 21:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. daftar ceme online terpercaya

    Awesome article.

    May 29, 2021 at 00:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Semi Truck Body

    I’m amazed, I have to admit. Seldom do I encounter a blog that’s equally educative and entertaining, and without a doubt, you have hit the nail on the head. The issue is something that too few men and women are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy that I found this in my search for something regarding this.


    May 29, 2021 at 06:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Local Marketing Consultants

    I'm very happy to discover this great site. I wanted to thank you for your time due to this wonderful read!! I definitely enjoyed every bit of it and I have you bookmarked to look at new things in your web site.


    May 29, 2021 at 08:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Box Truck Restoration Shop


    May 29, 2021 at 20:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Box Truck Upgrades Shop

    Next time I read a blog, I hope that it does not fail me just as much as this particular one. I mean, Yes, it was my choice to read through, nonetheless I really thought you'd have something interesting to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you can fix if you were not too busy searching for attention.


    May 29, 2021 at 21:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. camisetas de baloncesto nba

    Thanks for one's marvelous posting! I actually enjoyed reading
    it, you happen to be a great author. I will always bookmark your
    blog and will often come back in the foreseeable future.
    I want to encourage yourself to continue your great job, have a nice day!

    May 29, 2021 at 23:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Luxury Truck Shop

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


    May 30, 2021 at 01:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Internet Marketing Consultants Near Me


    May 30, 2021 at 13:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. RV Repair Near My Location


    May 31, 2021 at 00:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. RV And Truck Repair Near Me

    It’s nearly impossible to find knowledgeable people on this subject, however, you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks


    May 31, 2021 at 07:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Best RV Repair Near Me


    May 31, 2021 at 08:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. RV Repair Near Me Now


    May 31, 2021 at 10:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. geico painting commercial


    June 1, 2021 at 11:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Celesta Byrom


    June 1, 2021 at 15:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Lawrence Marez

    You have made some really good points there. I checked on the net to find out more about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this site.


    June 1, 2021 at 22:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Lea Hightower

    The next time I read a blog, Hopefully it won't fail me just as much as this one. After all, I know it was my choice to read, but I really believed you'd have something helpful to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something you could possibly fix if you were not too busy looking for attention.


    June 1, 2021 at 23:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Darleen Maish

    Saved as a favorite, I love your site!


    June 2, 2021 at 01:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Sprinter Van Conversion Shop

    bookmarked!!, I love your web site!


    June 2, 2021 at 06:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Rv Mechanic

    I used to be able to find good info from your content.


    June 2, 2021 at 16:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. agen joker terpercaya

    As the admin of this web site is working, no uncertainty very soon it will be famous,
    due to its feature contents.

    June 2, 2021 at 19:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. binary options youtube

    Hey! Do you know if they make any plugins to help with Search Engine Optimization? I'm trying to get my blog to rank for some
    targeted keywords but I'm not seeing very good success.
    If you know of any please share. Appreciate it!

    June 2, 2021 at 21:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. judi roulette

    Thanks a bunch for sharing this with all folks you actually recognize what you are speaking about!
    Bookmarked. Kindly additionally seek advice from my website =).
    We may have a link alternate contract among

    June 2, 2021 at 22:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. speed shop orange county


    June 2, 2021 at 22:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. rv generator repair


    June 2, 2021 at 23:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Ozella Kinville

    I absolutely love your site.. Great colors & theme. Did you develop this website yourself? Please reply back as I’m hoping to create my own website and would love to find out where you got this from or just what the theme is called. Appreciate it!


    June 3, 2021 at 00:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Quinn Mcneff

    Aw, this was an extremely good post. Taking the time and actual effort to generate a very good article… but what can I say… I put things off a lot and never seem to get nearly anything done.


    June 3, 2021 at 02:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Content Marketing Experts


    June 3, 2021 at 04:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Digital Marketing Service


    June 3, 2021 at 10:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Video Marketing Experts


    June 3, 2021 at 11:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Social Media Marketing Company Near Me


    June 3, 2021 at 12:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. motorhome repair shops near me

    Greetings! Very helpful advice in this particular article! It is the little changes which will make the biggest changes. Many thanks for sharing!


    June 3, 2021 at 19:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. South Haven Michigan Mercedes Sprinter Repair Near Me


    June 3, 2021 at 19:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. refrigerators orange county

    I like it when folks get together and share ideas. Great website, continue the good work!


    June 3, 2021 at 20:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. rv blinds repair


    June 3, 2021 at 20:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Video Marketing Near Me

    Itís hard to find educated people for this subject, but you seem like you know what youíre talking about! Thanks


    June 3, 2021 at 23:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Video Marketing Business


    June 4, 2021 at 00:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Van Repair


    June 4, 2021 at 04:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. oil change near me


    June 4, 2021 at 05:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Sprinter Mercedes Service


    June 4, 2021 at 05:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Mercedes Benz Collision Repair Sprinter Van

    Good post. I learn something new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon on a daily basis. It's always interesting to read content from other authors and practice a little something from their web sites.


    June 4, 2021 at 05:48 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Leave a Reply to Mercedes Sprinter Service Centers


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.