Monday, August 2, 2010

Why We Don't Drink the KoolAid

I've long observed a correlation between food colorings and negative behaviors in some of my children. I was not aware that some of our FDA approved petro-based colorings are also linked to cancers in laboratory animals. I thought they just made my kids hyper and obnoxious.

When you combine that with the chemical load from things like pesticides and air pollution, leaching plastics, and who-even-knows-what-else I have to ask: when do we start drawing some lines? The CSPI report notes that these dyes are now directly linked to behavior problems in Britain and being more heavily regulated in Europe:

"Two recent studies sponsored by the British government on cross-sections of British
children found that mixtures of four dyes (and a food preservative, sodium benzoate)
impaired the behavior of even non-hyperactive children (Bateman, Warner et al. 2004;
McCann, Barrett et al. 2007). As a result, the British government told the food and
restaurant industries to eliminate the dyes tested by the end of 2009, and the European Parliament passed a law that will require a warning notice on all foods that contain one or more of the dyes tested after July 20, 2010. The notice states that the dyed food “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children” (Parliament accessed February 20, 2010). Distressingly, some products made by McDonald’s, Mars, Kraft, PepsiCo, and other major U.S. multinational companies contain dyes in the United States, but natural or no colorings in the United Kingdom."

Call me a food Luddite if you will, but I can't justify feeding my family chemicals whose only real purpose is to make nutritionally suspect products more appealing - especially if there are behavioral side effects.

The lurid photo at the top comes from a better written and more comprehensive post at elephant journal


Aelwyn said...

All you have to do is teach elementary school for a year and document behavior problems on days when kids are given a heavily dyed treat for some reason. (Why do sugar cookies have to be so heavily decorated to make them nice?) There is a definite behavior correlation - at least anecdotally - in my experience. Boy, is it difficult to avoid. When we go to the bakery, my child knows that if a sugar cookie is bought, it has to be the lightest color possible. If there is a white one available, that will be the one she gets.

Steph said...

We borrowed a dehydrator and made homemade pink/red food coloring from beets. Let me know if you want a little to turn special treats a delightfully princess-y color! Spinach makes a nice green too.