S P E C I A L F E A T U R E
Americans consume five hat gives Fanta Orange soda its color? In the United States, “Why should Americans
times as much food dye as continue to consume these
they did 30 years ago, ac- it’s two synthetic food dyes: Red 40 and Yellow 6. In Eng- synthetic dyes when many
cording to the Food and multinational companies
land, it’s pumpkin and carrot extract. At a U.S. McDonald’s,
Photos: Carol Walsh (McDonald’s sundae at left), Moira Donahue (all others).
Drug Administration. But are phasing them out
the trend in other coun- the strawberry sundae gets its color from Red 40. In England, the elsewhere?” asked CSPI
tries may be turning. Brit- executive director Michael
ish arms of General Mills, red comes from (surprise!) real strawberries. Jacobson.
Kellogg, Kraft, Mars, and “The FDA’s insistence
McDonald’s, for example, that there is no evidence
use few or no dyes. benzoate, in children from the general that dyes impair behavior is based on its
Why? Europeans dislike synthetic in- British population (and not suspected misreading of a 25-year-old report.”
gredients, and the companies aren’t keen of being sensitive to dyes).1,2 The British Do companies need synthetic dyes to
on putting warning labels on their foods. Food Standards Agency is urging compa- make their foods look good? What do you
Last summer, the European Parliament nies to voluntarily dump the dyes. think? Here’s a sampling of foods that are
approved this warning for packages of In June, the Center for Science in the made with either synthetic or natural col-
foods that contain any one of six synthet- Public Interest (Nutrition Action’s pub- orings. Good news: two of the naturally
ic food dyes: “May have an adverse effect lisher) petitioned the FDA to ban Yellow 5 colored foods (Yoplait Original Red Rasp-
on activity and attention in children.” and 6, Red 3 and 40, Blue 1 and 2, Green 3, berry Yogurt and Kraft Organic Macaroni
That was based on the results of two and Orange B in the United States. & Cheese) are sold in the United States.
British studies that tested food dyes, 1
Arch. Dis. Child. 89: 506, 2004.
together with the preservative sodium 2
Lancet, September 6, 2007,
General Mills DOI:10.1016/S0140-6736(07)61306-3.
Yoplait Light Yoplait Original
Red Raspberry Red Raspberry McDonald’s Strawberry McDonald’s Strawberry
Color: Red 40 Color: Beet Juice Sundae Sundae
Color: Red 40 Color: Strawberries
Hint of Lime
Hint of Lime
Colors: Blue 1, Red 40 Colors: None listed
Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Kraft Macaroni & Cheese
For Parents Scooby-Doo! Organic Cheddar
Colors: Yellow 5, Yellow 6 Color: Annatto
If you believe that food dyes affect
your child’s behavior, please write to
CSPI—Dye Reports, Suite 300,
1875 Connecticut Ave. NW,
Washington, DC 20009 or fill out a
report form at cspinet.org/fooddyes.
We’ll forward the reports to the FDA.
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