Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Artificial Colors, The McCann Study & The Feingold Association

(First of four parts)   
The use of artificial colorings in food has proliferated dramatically in recent decades. The FDA estimates that consumption in the United States has increased five-fold in the past 30 years. 

These synthetic dyes—made from petroleum!—run rampant in our food supply and are certified by the FDA. But many studies show that the FD&C (allowed to be used in food, drugs and cosmetics) colors Red 3, Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 1, Blue 2 and Green 3 are detrimental to our well-being. 

Yet, these additives (used to improve and brighten the appearance of foodstuffs) continue to be found in products both obvious (Gatorade, Skittles, Froot Loops, Colored Goldfish) and surprising (Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Cereal Bars, Dannon Light & Fit Nonfat Yogurt, Hellman’s Honey Mustard and Milk-Bone Flavored Dog Snacks). 

The latest study to sound alarms was conducted at the University of Southampton in England and published in The Lancet medical journal in September 2007. The McCann Study researchers “undertook a randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, crossover trial to test whether intake of artificial food colour and additives (AFCA) affected childhood behaviour.” 

The researchers’ conclusion: “Artificial colours or a sodium benzoate preservative (or both) in the diet result in increased hyperactivity in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the general population.” 

“The McCann Study used a modest amount of food additives, particularly the petroleum-based dyes,” said Jane Hersey, the National Director of The Feingold Association, a non-profit organization which raises awareness of the potential role of foods and synthetic additives in behavioral, learning and health problems. 

 “The researchers found that these additives triggered symptoms of ADHD [Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder] in the general population, not just in children who had been identified as ADHD.” 

The study caused an uproar in Britain and, to a lesser extent, throughout Europe.

 (Tomorrow: The British response to The McCann Study)

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