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The FDA is facing pressure to take nationwide action regarding Red Food Dye

The FDA is facing pressure to take nationwide action regarding Red Food Dye

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is facing new pressure to take action on the synthetic food dye Red No. 3 after California passed a law banning it last week.

California became the first state to ban four food additives, including Red No. 3, and public health advocates are urging the exclusion of this dye from food products nationwide. "I think the passage of the bill in California creates undeniable pressure on the FDA," says Dr. Peter Lurie, president and executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

His group, along with other consumer advocacy groups, including the Public Interest Research Group and the Consumer Federation of America, petitioned the FDA in October of last year to ban the use of Red No. 3. Lurie believes that actions in California are "more likely to succeed... than not fulfilling our request."

Back in 1990, the FDA discontinued the use of Red No. 3 in cosmetics and topical medications, such as medicinal ointments or lotions, based on research showing it could cause cancer in rats. However, the FDA continued to allow its use in food products, and it became widespread in U.S. food supplies. Since then, numerous studies have linked the consumption of synthetic food dyes to behavioral problems in children, including hyperactivity.

"We have been waiting for 33 years for the FDA to take action that would remove [Red No. 3] from the market and better protect American consumers," says Lurie.

Synthetic food dyes, including Red No. 3, give products a bright, vibrant color, making them more appealing to the eye.

California Becomes First State to Ban 4 Disease-Causing Food Additives HEALTH California Becomes First State to Ban 4 Disease-Causing Food Additives "Bright colors are important to our industry," says Christopher Gindlesperger of the National Confectioners Association, a trade group representing candy companies. Red No. 3 is also found in many other products and beverages, such as bright sodas, juices, yogurts, snacks, and frozen desserts. He says that his industry does not use ingredients that do not meet FDA safety standards.

But Gindlesperger argues that California's ban, which is set to take effect in 2027, will create a patchwork of state requirements that could increase food prices and cause confusion among consumers, including parents.

He says the FDA should use its regulatory authority to address whether Red No. 3 can continue to be used in food products. In a letter to the FDA, the organization said that California is "unaware of national food safety standards."

"This is a call to the FDA," Gindlesperger says. "It's time for the FDA to engage in a discussion and conduct a thorough analysis [and] evaluate all available scientific data," he says, so the agency can provide the recommendations needed by food companies.

When the California Environmental Protection Agency examined a body of data on synthetic food dyes, they found evidence that dyes consumed with food can have a negative impact on children's behavior. Out of about 25 studies, more than half showed a positive link between the consumption of artificial food dyes and behavioral consequences.

They also analyzed dietary survey data and found higher consumption of synthetic dyes in low-income communities. "We also found that African Americans, in general, consume more alcohol," says Asa Bradman, a public health scientist at the University of California, Merced, who helped the state with the analysis.

"I tend to be cautious," Bradman says. "I think there's a strong case for removing [Red No. 3] from food."

In one double-blind study, children aged 3 to 9 consumed a beverage containing synthetic dyes or a placebo beverage without dyes. Researchers found that artificial dyes in the diet led to increased hyperactivity.

Ultra-processed diet made this doctor ill. Now he's studying why VACCINES - HEALTH NEWS Ultra-processed diet made this doctor ill. Now he's studying why "I think these human studies are compelling in demonstrating that the consumption of synthetic food dyes by children can contribute to increased symptoms like inattention and hyperactivity in some children," says Mark Miller, a scientist with the California Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.

Miller also published a review of animal studies that showed synthetic food dyes could affect memory and learning. He says that the state's review suggests that the FDA should reassess synthetic food dyes based on new data.