Synthetic food dyes may cause ADHD in children

A new report from California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazards Assessment (OEHHA) says that some synthetic food dyes may change children’s behavior. The report says that they may cause hyperactivity, inattentiveness and other disorders, such as ADHD, both with and without pre-existing behavioral problems. The report claims that FDA’s safe limits imposed on some dyes are not adequate to protect children, which are often attracted to industrially colored food.  

The report integrated 27 different clinical trials involving synthetic food dyes. In human studies is clear that children's sensitivity to synthetic food dyes changes in a wide range. Consequently, some children are likely to be adversely affected by synthetic food dyes. Positive associations between attention disorders and synthetic food dyes consumption were also more frequently reported in studies published after 1990, when colored food became widely popular.  The most common food product with these dyes is juice drinks, followed by soft drinks, ice cream cones, breakfast cereals and icings.   “We will be taking this issue to the FDA and pressing to eliminate dyes in school foods,” says Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) director Laura MacCleery. The report accuses the FDA to were too lazy on this problem: while regulation did not change a lot in past decades, the quantity of synthetic food dyes produced in the US has increased ten-folds: in 1955 the production was 1.6 million pounds per year, in 2015 it was 17 million pounds.  

Instead, the EU in 2010 introduced a new regulation for some synthetic food dyes, marking products that contain them with a warning label. The report’s authors suggest to use this pressure to protect children's health, and consider to use more natural food colorants, such as red beets juice.