Cake Decorators: Do you know How Safe are color additives?
It is very important for us, cake decorators and cold porcelain crafters, to know the importance of the request to the FDA by The Center of Science in the Public Interest to ban food dyes additives linked to children behavior problems.
Two things concern me about this request:
1. How this will impact our business, what colors can be used to tint the icing, gumpaste and fondant?.
The first is a problem that has an easy solution, search for natural food dyes. A growing number of natural food dyes are being commercially produced, partly due to consumer concerns surrounding synthetic dyes. Some examples include:
Cochineal, a red dye derived from the cochineal insect, Dactylopius coccus.
To ensure reproducibility, the colored components of these substances are often provided in highly purified form, and for increased stability and convenience, they can be formulated in suitable carrier materials (solid and liquid).
In the USA, the following seven artificial colorings are permitted in food (the most common in bold) as of 2007:
2. What is more important for us, our children or greed?
The idea that food additives can cause hyperactivity in children was first proposed by allergy specialist Dr. Benjamin Feingold in 1975. This sparked international inquiry with mixed results. In a new study financed by Britain’s Food Standards Agency and published online by the British medical journal The Lancet researchers have conclusively confirmed this link. The study focused on a variety of food colorings in combination with sodium benzoate, a common preservative. In the six-week trial, researchers gave a randomly selected group of several hundred 3-year-olds and 8 and 9-year-olds drinks with color additives and sodium benzoate — a mix that mimicked children’s drinks that are commercially available. Their diet was otherwise controlled to avoid other sources of the additives.
A control group was given an additive-free placebo drink that looked and tasted the same.
All of the children were then evaluated for inattention and hyperactivity by parents, teachers and through a computer test. Neither the researchers nor the subject knew which drink any of the children had consumed.
The researchers discovered that children in both age groups were significantly more hyperactive and that they had shorter attention spans if they had consumed the drink containing the additives.
In response to the study, the Food Standards Agency advised parents to monitor their children’s activity and, if they noted a marked change with food containing additives, to adjust their diets accordingly, eliminating artificial colors and preservatives.
comprehensive 2004 meta-analysis of the medical literature concluded that artificial dyes affect children’s behavior, and two recent studies funded by the British government found that dyes (as well as the preservative sodium benzoate) adversely affect kids’ behavior. Unlike most previous studies, those British studies tested children in the general population, not children whose parents suspected they were sensitive to dyes. As a result, the British government is successfully pressuring food manufacturers to switch to safer colorings.
“We spent years trying to figure out the cause of our son’s behavioral problems,” said Judy Mann, of Silver Spring, Md. “For a long time, we thought the culprit was sugar. But when we started carefully monitoring everything he ate we were able to see that artificial dyes and preservatives were the problem. Since eliminating them the change has been positively stunning.”
“The continued use of these unnecessary artificial dyes is the secret shame of the food industry and the regulators who watch over it,” said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. “The purpose of these chemicals is often to mask the absence of real food, to increase the appeal of a low-nutrition product to children, or both. Who can tell the parents of kids with behavioral problems that this is truly worth the risk?”
Americans’ exposure to artificial food dyes has risen sharply. According to the FDA, the amount of food dye certified for use was 12 milligrams per capita per day in 1955. In 2007, 59 mg per capita per day, or nearly five times as much, was certified for use. Dyes are used in countless foods and are sometimes used to simulate the color of fruits or vegetables
“The science shows that kids’ behavior improves when these artificial colorings are removed from their diets and worsens when they’re added to the their diets,” said Dr. David Schab, a psychiatrist at Columbia University Medical Center, who conducted the 2004 meta-analysis with his colleague Dr. Nhi-Ha T. Trinh. “While not all children seem to be sensitive to these chemicals, it’s hard to justify their continued use in foods—especially those foods heavily marketed to young children.”.
“It’s almost impossible for parents to eliminate these chemicals from their kids’ diets on their own. The FDA could make life a lot easier for parents and children by just getting rid of them.”
“Banning these synthetic chemicals is certainly a far less drastic step than putting so many children on Ritalin or other potentially dangerous and sometimes-abused prescription stimulants,” said Jacobson. “The food industry has known about this problem for 30 years, yet few companies have switched to safer colorings. We hope today is the beginning of the end for Yellow 5, Red 40, and these other dubious dyes.”
CSPI’s petition asks the FDA to require a warning label on foods with artificial dyes while it mulls CSPI’s request to ban the dyes outright. CSPI also wants the FDA to correct the information it presents to parents on its web site about the impact of artificial food dyes on behavior. Joining CSPI’s call are 19 prominent psychiatrists, toxicologists, and pediatricians who today co-signed letter urging members of Congress to hold hearings on artificial food dyes and behavior, and to fund an Institute of Medicine research project on the issue. Those doctors include L. Eugene Arnold, professor emeritus of psychiatry at Ohio State University; Bernard Weiss, professor of environmental medicine at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry; and Stanley Greenspan, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at George Washington University Medical School.