Europeans don’t only have it right in requiring GMO foods to be labeled or banning them outright, the European Parliament (the elected parliamentary unit of the EU) has also begun requiring labels on foods containing artificial colors. Of course, the U.S. hasn’t done anything of the sort, balking at research that shows the dangers these lab-created colors pose especially to children.
In Europe, foods with artificial colors must carry a label warning that “consumption may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.” The U.S. Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has campaigned for the FDA to adopt similar labeling practices, but to no avail.
The Question of Artificial Colors
Is food coloring bad for you? Those who say the additives aren’t dangerous claim that food colors are some of the most tightly regulated additives there are and that there is little direct evidence between food colors and hyperactivity in children.
Thousands of American parents, however, would disagree.
Numerous parents who have experienced unmanageable kids have found nearly instant relief after changing their diets. By eliminating processed foods, including those laden with bright artificial colors, they’ve found their children to be quite enjoyable, and all of this without the use of prescription drugs.
“The (synthetic food dyes) used in the U.S. are absolutely safe,” says Joseph Borzelleca with the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine. And while he’s not alone in this opinion, the whole of Europe seems to disagree.
The European Parliament voted to require labels on foods containing artificial colors after a study showed that hyperactivity increased in children when they consumed two different mixtures of artificial colors and a preservative. They were so moved by the data, that they completely banned colors in foods consumed by babies and small children.
Still, however, the FDA isn’t convinced, saying there’s no “direct link.”
Using about 15 million pounds of artificial colors into our food every single year, companies using artificial colors are fueling allergic reactions, hyperactivity in children, and even cancer. Since 1955, our consumption of these dyes has risen five-times. And while we think of the rainbow-colored sweet cereals, kid-friendly yogurts, and sugared drinks as being the biggest offenders, artificial colors are found in a wide variety of the foods we eat.
Interestingly, rather than watch their products carry a stern warning and the suffer the subsequent drop in sales, many U.S. based food manufacturers have created versions with natural coloring, if only to serve to their European food market. Kellogg’s, for instance, has taken their cereal bars, usually colored with Red No. 40, Yellow No. 6 and Blue No. 1 and created a European version using beet root red, annatto, and paprika extract.
Yes, American food companies are not only complying with the European rules, they are adjusting to them and feeding the European market a more healthful alternative. Here, however, we are left to suffer the decisions (or lack thereof) of the FDA, continuing to eat foods with bright artificial colors and GMO ingredients.