- Artificial food dyes, including Red 40 and Yellow 5, are in 43% of products marketed to children, according to research published in the July issue of Clinical Pediatrics.
- Almost all candies had artificial dyes, which were found in 96% of products. Fruit-flavored snacks had the next highest proportion of the dyes, with 95%.
- The 810 products sampled for the study were produced by 66 companies. Kraft made 105 of the products, 66% of which contained artificial dyes.
While many manufacturers have put considerable time and investment into developing natural color replacements, there is much work to be done.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest has petitioned the FDA to ban certain dyes, and has submitted more than 2,000 complaints from parents think their children were adversely impacted by the dyes, leading to behavioral problems. The organization has suggested warning labels that would read: "Warning: This food contains synthetic food colorings that may impair the behavior of some children."
Concerns surrounding children’s health are also front and center for School Food Focus, which this week announced an ingredient guide to ensure better food purchasing. It lists unwanted ingredients and offers a watch list of red flag ingredients.
School Food Focus officials believe by presenting a unified front about ingredients they find unacceptable, the resulting transparency and accountability will have the potential to change the food system.
However, a certain amount of artificial coloring may always be around.
"Although the demand for natural ingredients will continue to grow, I think there will always be a need for a certain amount of what may be described as synthetic ingredients," said Paul Manning, president and CEO of Sensient Technologies. Natural colors aren't as stable as artificial colors, and costs of using natural colors can be higher.