FDA: "Food Coloring Still Safe"

Artificial food coloring does not contribute to childhood hyperactivity (ADHD)

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) In light of mounting reports, the FDA's Food Advisory Committee has reviewed the evidence that shows that artificial food coloring can cause behavioral problems in some children. The committee has concluded that artificial dyes are still safe.

In an 11 to 3 vote, the FDA's Food Advisory Committee is saying that the artificial food coloring found in so many foods consumed in the United States does not contribute to hyperactive behaviors in children.

Past studies have found evidence showing that food coloring may increase hyperactive tendencies in children at risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Similarly, other research has shown that removing food coloring from the diet of children with ADHD reduces the symptoms of the behavioral disorder.

With this FDA vote, it looks as if our explosively colorful foods will stay colorful.

It is estimated that 5% of American adults, or 18 million people, are diagnosed with ADHD, and anywhere from 2% to 16% of school aged children as well. ADD/ADHD is one of the most common childhood mental illnesses and can last into adolescence and adulthood. Patients have difficulty focusing and paying attention, controlling behavior and impulsivity, and sometimes problems with learning and listening. The resulting behavior can make school and life at home very difficult for the patients and their families. It is believed that a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental factors cause it. Treatment is usually effective with stimulant medications (ex. Concerta, Ritalin, Strattera) and psychotherapy with behavioral modification.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
March 31, 2011
Last Updated:
October 2, 2012