An advisory panel from the FDA has suggested that the agency study more about the tie between food coloring and childhood hyperactivity. This said, they claim that the products that have these dyes do not currently need warnings.
The committee voted 8 to 6 for food packages not to have warnings on packages with food colorings. Currently the products have to list the food colorings, but contain no warning about a potential link to hyperactivity. This committee consisted of doctors, scientists and consumer representatives.
The panel did agree with the FDA and indicated that there is not sufficient enough evidence to say that specific food dyes cause hyperactivity in most children. However, they were in accordance that diets that do not contain food dyes seem to work well for a considerable amount of children with behavior problems.
During a two-day meeting, the advisory committee looked at the links between the dyes and attention deficit disorder. The FDA agrees with studies that show hyperactivity and other behavioral problems are worsened by food dyes, as well as other substances found in foods. For most children, there is no proven effect.
The FDA and the panel now must decide if all this should lead to more regulation. Academics who have been studying the issue, as well as public advocates, both agree that the dyes do not seem to be the main cause of hyperactivity, but they claim that the effects of specific dyes on a percentage of children has caused enough concern to support a ban on the additives.
The meeting was held by the FDA in reaction to a 2008 petition that was filed by the advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest to ban Yellow 5, Red 40 and six other dyes. The director of the group, Michael Jacobson, said that he is disappointed that panel members were looking for exact scientific evidence that the link exists. He is pleased that at least the FDA is accepting the fact that food coloring may affect hyperactivity in some children.
Even though dyes are still found in U.S. foods, certain companies have decreased the use of dyes in food that are sold in Europe.