US FDA asked to ban artificial food dyes that make children hyperactive

Instance of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has risen dramatically in the last few decades, in line with the increase in the use of artificial food dyes, and now an advocacy group has petitioned the Food and Drug Administration in the United States to ban some of the dyes.

A two-day meeting took place in March 2011 to determine whether there is a link between food colourings such as Red 40, Yellow 5 and 6, and some others used in brightly coloured foods, and hyperactivity. These dyes are generally used to make junk food more attractive to children, and they are even used in some foods that are not colourful, such as instant mashed potatoes. Michael F Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public who has requested these dyes be banned says that the evidence that these petrochemicals worsen some children’s behaviour is convincing. A voluntary ban on their use has been in place in Europe since 2008. (See FSA's lists.)

The Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents food producers and packagers, says that extensive reviews had already shown that these dyes are safe. It could be months or years before the FDA reaches any decision.

More from the Center for Science in the Public Interest

First published in March 2011

More research reports on the causes of ADHD


Top of page