A recent study has claimed that children consume more artificial food colors (AFCs) than previously thought, raising concerns about potential health effects not addressed by federal guidelines. Laura Stevens, et al., “Amounts of Artificial Food Dyes and Added Sugars in Foods and Sweets Commonly Consumed by Children,” Clinical Pediatrics, April 2014. In addition to reporting the AFC content of individual brand-name foods and beverages, Purdue University researchers ultimately calculated that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) certified 62 mg of AFCs per capita per day in 2010, up from 12 mg per capita per day in 1950. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), these levels of AFC consumption “are higher than the levels demonstrated in some clinical trials to impair some children’s behavior.”

“In the 1970s and 1980s, many studies were conducted giving children 26 mg of a mixture of dyes,” one study author was quoted as saying. “Only a few children seemed to react to the dyes, so many doctors concluded that a dye-free diet was pointless. Later studies using larger doses showed that a much larger percentage of children reacted. But some researchers considered those doses unrealistically high. It is now clear that even the larger amounts may not have been high enough. The time is long past due for the FDA to get dyes out of the food supply or for companies to do so voluntarily and promptly.” See CSPI Press Release, May 7, 2014.