Five million children have been diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in this country, and the numbers just keep rising. For decades now, there’s been a sneaking suspicion that petroleum-based food dyes (substances the FDA politely terms “food additives”) Red No. 40 and Yellow No. 6, have been playing havoc with our kids’ health, causing hyperactivity and other problems. California pediatric allergist Dr. Benjamin Feingold first raised the alarm about this in the 1970s when he treated his hyperactive patients with a diet free of food coloring, with remarkable results..
Recently the CSPI (Center for Science in the Public Interest) petitioned the FDA, asking–at the very least–for warning labels about synthetic food additives. These would be placed on such popular children’s food items as Froot Loops cereal, Pop Tarts, jello, and lemonade. At most, the CSPI was hoping for a complete ban on these additives.
Unsurprisingly, based on its toothless track record of protecting the public from dangerous substances, the FDA said no. But the vote was 8-6 against the proposal, showing that medical experts were almost tied on the matter.
And, for the first time, the FDA admitted that children with behavioral problems who consume synthetic food dyes, commonly found in sodas and candy, may see their symptoms worsen!
Here’s more about this frightening scenario: FDA data shows that the daily amount of food dyes allowed for consumption each day per person in the U.S. has increased five times between 1955 and 2007, up to 59 milligrams per day.
A recent Dutch study makes astonishing reading. For the first time, solid data has been found that makes completely clear the baleful effect of these dyes.
A team of Dutch researchers took 100 unmedicated children who’d been diagnosed with ADHD and fed half of them a “clean” diet free of processed foods and allergens. The other 50 served as the control group.
After five weeks, more than 60 percent of the kids in the test group had seen their symptoms either fade or fall out of the clinical range altogether. “Food is the main cause of ADHD,” the lead researcher, Lidy Peisser, told NPR.
Here’s where you’ll find these toxic dyes today: in your food, drink, and medications. The orange-red hue in pills is Red No. 40, known as Allura Red, made from petroleum products. (According to Time Magazine, the previous red dye used in American foods, Red No. 2, was yanked off the market in 1972 when it was found to be carcinogenic!)
It’s also in orange and other flavored sodas like Sunkist and fruit punches, Cheetos and Dorito chips, nacho cheese, strawberry pop-tarts, any candy with red coloring including M&M’s, skittles, gum, etc. Red 40 is in many adult beverages, including V-8, Gatorade, and Ocean Spray Ruby Red grapefruit juice. Surprisingly, it’s in Pillsbury pie crusts and several brands of vanilla cake mixes and frostings, as Red 40 mixed with Yellow No. 5 creates a more “golden” look. Vitamins and pain relievers/cold medicine often have Red 40 in the ingredients. It’s even in strawberry-flavored Ensure!
And American children are more exposed to synthetic dyes than in any other country. According to the CSPI, many of the processed food products marketed to children in the U.S. contain artificial colorings, while the same products sold on the British market do not contain the artificial ingredients.