Maryland is poised to become the first state in the nation to require food packaging to include warning labels if the product is made with certain food coloring additives that have been linked to ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
An outright ban would follow by 2012.
Like a bill in any state legislature, this one has a long way to go. But two bills introduced recently would set those new rules, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which has argued for stricter Food and Drug Administration regulation of food additives since two British studies linked certain food colorings to hyperactivity and related behavioral problems in children. Hearings on the proposed laws are scheduled for this week.
"Evidence linking Red 40, Yellow 5, and other synthetic food dyes to behavioral problems in children has been mounting for 30 years," said David Schardt, the organization's senior nutritionist. "The Food and Drug Administration should have banned the dyes years ago and responsible manufacturers could have stopped using them voluntarily. But since they haven't, state legislatures have an opportunity and responsibility to protect children from these chemicals. I hope Senator Stones legislation is adopted and inspires other state legislatures to similarly put the interest of children ahead of the convenience of junk-food companies."
European regulation, according to CSPI, are already more strict: "For instance, the syrup in a strawberry sundae from a McDonald's in the U.K. gets its red color from strawberries; in the U.S., the red color comes from synthetic Red 40. In the U.S., synthetic food dyes are common in brightly colored foods popular with children, including candies, soft drinks, breakfast cereals, and snack foods. Sometimes the sunny synthetic colors are designed to simulate fruits or vegetables, as in the case of a "Guacamole Dip" produced by Kraft, which gets its green color not from avocados but from Yellow 5, Yellow 6, and Blue 1. The "artificially flavored blueberry bits" in Aunt Jemima Blueberry Waffles are blue thanks to Red 40 and Blue 2, not blueberries."
Which food colorings should you look out for? If Maryland's food warning bill passes, these chemical additives would bear the following warning: Warning: The color additives in this food may cause hyperactivity and behavior problems in some children.
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