Part 3 - The Toxic Rainbow

Are Artificial Food Dyes as safe as the FDA Claims Them to be?

Let’s put the question another way.  Is it safe to give a child food that contains petroleum, even if the FDA says it’s safe?  That’s what artificial food dyes are made from – petroleum.  The quantity of petroleum is small but large enough to cause hyperactivity and behavioral problems in some children.

The link between artificial food dyes and hyperactivity in children – now known as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) – caught the attention of the late Dr. Benjamin Feingold.  He was a pediatric allergist from California.  

In the 1970’s he had great success in treating his young hyperactive patients through diet.  He created a diet that was free of artificial colors, artificial flavors, BHA, BHT, and salicylates.  One of his many technical publications in the field of allergy and basic immunology was Feingold Cookbook for Hyperactive Children.

In spite of his success for treating hyperactivity in children through diet, his method was dismissed by the scientific community as ‘inconclusive’.

Then on November 3, 2007 – twenty-five years after Dr. Feingold’s death in 1982, an article was published in The Lancet medical journal stating that artificial colorings might lead to behavioral changes even in typical children.  An in-depth study of children between the ages of 3 and 9 concluded that ‘artificial colors 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.’

Then in 2011 the consumer science group asked the government to ban the dyes, or at least require manufacturers to include prominent warnings that ‘artificial colorings in this food cause hyperactivity and behavioral problems in some children’.

Perhaps, faced with growing evidence, the FDA will take a closer look at banning artificial food dyes from food that is mostly consumed by children.