The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to require labeling on foods containing synthetic food dyes such as FD&C Green 3 and FD&C Blue 2. CSPI’s latest move follows its January 2016 publication of a report critical of FDA’s inattention to food dyes and pointing to studies allegedly linking food-dye consumption to behavioral issues in children, particularly those with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The health advocacy group’s proposed labeling would state: “WARNING: This food contains synthetic food colorings that may impair the behavior of some children.”

“As long as dyes are permitted, only a warning label will provide consumers with the appropriate information to enable them to make the association between foods containing those dyes and their children’s behavioral symptoms,” CSPI said in its March 15, 2016, letter to FDA. “The FDA has mandated such labeling in the past on several occasions. For the same reason, labeling is necessary in the context of food dyes.”

Previous examples of FDA-mandated warnings cited by CSPI include those required on unpasteurized juices and products containing olestra and aspartame.

“If the FDA is willing to place a label on products containing aspartame to protect (from a malady that we recognize may be far more severe than symptoms of ADHD) a vulnerable subpopulation of less than 10,000, the agency should also require a products containing food dyes that affect over half a million children.”

CSPI cites costs of $3.5 billion to more than $5 billion to treat children and adolescents with ADHD linked to ingestion of food dyes. See CSPI News Release, March 15, 2016.