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Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks
Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks

Food Dyes

Read CSPI's new report, "Seeing Red: Time for Action on Food Dyes," to learn more.

The Food and Drug Administration is failing to protect children from the disturbing behavioral problems caused by artificial food dyes, even though evidence of those problems has continued to mount since 2011, when an FDA advisory panel last considered the issue.

Commonly used food dyes, such as Yellow 5, Red 40, and six others, pose risks including hyperactivity in children, cancer (in animal studies), and allergic reactions. In 2008, because of the problem of hyperactivity, the Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned the FDA to ban the use of these dyes. The British government and the European Union have taken actions that are virtually ending the use of dyes throughout Europe.

Food dyes also serve to deceive consumers: they are often used to simulate the presence of healthful, colorful fruits and vegetables. But considering the adverse impact of these chemicals on children, and considering how easily they can be replaced with safe, natural ingredients, it's time to get rid of them altogether from the United States and Canada.

How do food dyes affect real families? Watch these 3 videos from moms of children who are adversely affected by artificial dyes in foods.


A new petition on Change.org asks Mars, the maker of M&M's candies, to stop coloring its products with petroleum-based artificial food dyes. Sponsored by CSPI and Renee Shutters, a mother of two from Jamestown, New York, the petition underscores the connection between artificial dyes and hyperactivity in children.

More than 195,000 people have already signed the petition. Please add your name now.

Shutters Family with Candy
The Shutters family give artificial food dyes a thumbs down.



Commonly used food dyes, such as Yellow 5, Red 40, and six others, are made from petroleum and pose a “rainbow of risks.” Those risks include hyperactivity in children, cancer (in animal studies), and allergic reactions. In 2008, because of the problem of hyperactivity, the Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to ban the use of these dyes. The British government and European Union have taken actions that are virtually ending the use of dyes throughout Europe.

Food dyes also serve to deceive consumers: they are often used to simulate the presence of healthful, colorful fruits and vegetables. But considering the adverse impact of these chemicals on children, and considering how easily they can be replaced with safe, natural ingredients, it's time to get rid of them altogether from the United States and Canada.

Kellogg's Nutri-Grain Cereal Bars ingredients. From Britian compared to the US.

Kellogg's Nutri-Grain bars are made with natural colorings in Britain but contain food dyes in the United States.


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