Food color additives are safe. They have been evaluated for safety by several regulatory authorities across the globe, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
Globally, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and World Health Organization’s (WHO) Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) reevaluates the safety of food and color additives. JECFA, an independent scientific expert committee, performs risk assessments and provides advice to FAO/WHO member countries and the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC).
Their function in food
According to experts, “color is the single most important sensory cue to expectations about the likely taste and flavor of food and drink.” In addition to increasing the consistency of naturally occurring colors in food, color additives also allow us to easily identify foods we like.
Food colors and hyperactivity
Scientific studies on the potential relationship between food colors and hyperactivity have been conducted for over 30 years. To date, most scientific experts and regulatory agencies agree that enough evidence does not exist to support a causal relationship between food color consumption and increased hyperactivity.
What does the FDA have to say about food colors and hyperactivity?
In 2011, the FDA’s Food Advisory Committee reviewed the studies on food colors and hyperactivity in children and heard two days of expert testimony. They concluded that the current data did not prove that food colors caused hyperactivity or other adverse behavior in children; however, FDA experts stated that “more research is needed on the topic.”
Stay informed about food colors
If you would like to limit or avoid food color additives altogether, you can easily do so by reading the ingredient list on the food label. Color additives used in the product will be listed in the ingredient list.
This article was written by Theresa Hedrick, MS, RD, LD