Until now, the amounts of dyes in packaged foods have been secret.
Purdue University scientists reported that dye content of breakfast cereals, candies, baked goods and other foods, can impair children’s behavior. According to the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), the findings are disturbing and can possibly impair some children’s behavior.
Of all the cereal tested, Cap’n Crunch’s Oops! All Berries had the most artificial dyes. Target Mini Green cupcakes had the highest level found in any food. Skittles and M&M’s had the highest level in candies.
The Purdue researchers said one of the largest sources of artificial dyes in the American diet is beverages including, Full Throttle Red Energy Drink, Powerade Orange Sports drink, Crush Orange and several others.
Clinical trials say that the amount of dye that is needed to trigger reactions in the most sensitive children is not known.
“But now it’s clear that many children are consuming far more dyes than the amounts shown to cause behavioral problems to some children,” said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. “The cumulative impact of so much dyed foods in children’s diets, from breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, is a partial reason why behavioral problems have become more common.”
The amount of artificial food dye certified for use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has increased five-fold, between 1950 and 2012, according to the Purdue researchers.
“The time is long past due for the FDA to get dyes out of the food supply or for companies to do so voluntarily and promptly,” said Laura Stevens, research associate in the Nutrition Science Department at Purdue and lead author of the study.
In 2011, the FDA acknowledged that food dyes (and other ingredients) cause behavioral problems in some children. Public concern about dyes has spurred several major companies to remove dyes in some of their foods.
General Mills has removed dyes from Trix and Yoplait Go-Gurt yogurts. Chick-fil-A removed dye from its chicken soup. Frito-Lay has removed dyes from Lay’s seasoned kettle-cooked chips, Sun Chips and Tostitos. Pepperidge Farm has removed dyes from its Goldfish Colors crackers.