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March 28, 2011

FDA to Hold Food Advisory Committee Meeting on Possible Link between Food Dyes and ADHD in Children

The ACTA Group

On March 30 and 31, 2011, the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will hold a Food Advisory Committee meeting on the possible link between synthetic dyes in food products and behavioral issues in children, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Members of the Food Advisory Committee have been charged to “consider available relevant data on the possible association between consumption of certified color additives in food and hyperactivity in children, and to advise FDA as to what action, if any, is warranted to ensure consumer safety.”

FDA regulates over 40 color additives used in food products, including nine synthetic dyes considered “certified color additives.” Recent studies and clinical trials have investigated a suspected link between consumption of synthetic food dyes and attention problems in children. An interim FDA review of available scientific data concludes no causal relationship exists for the general population, but “for certain susceptible children with ADHD and other problem behaviors, the data suggest that their condition may be exacerbated” by artificial dyes in food.

Regulatory authorities in Europe and Britain arrived at a similar conclusion and now require a warning label on foods containing certain synthetic dyes noting that the product may have an adverse effect on the attention and activity level of children.

A petition has been submitted to FDA by a consumer group, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), asking the agency to impose similar labeling on products in the U.S. and to include neurotoxicity tests in the standard testing protocol for new food ingredients.

Details of FDA’s meeting, including briefing materials and the agenda, are available online. CSPI’s petition is available online.