FDA to Follow Europe's Lead and Place Warning Labels on Products Containing Artificial Food Dyes Derived from Petroleum and Laced with Lead, Mercury and Arsenic?

March FDA Hearings on Artificial Food Dye Warning Labels
On March 30 and 31, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) held a public hearing in response to a petition submitted by Dr. Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) in 2008. The petition called for the banning of the eight artificial dyes now used in our food, and requested that while these steps were taking place the agency should require warning labels on products that have these dyes. This is currently being done in Europe.

At the recommendation of Dr. Jacobson, the FDA invited me to travel to Washington, DC and testify at the hearings. The FDA commissioned a panel of scientists and doctors to review the research on food dyes and behavior problems and listen to presentations from people involved in this work. Called the Advisory Committee, they would then vote on specific questions drafted by the FDA.
   Feingold at FDA Hearing on Food Dyes
From left: Gail Wachsmuth, Renee Shutters, Shula Edelkind,
  Colleen Smethers, and Kathleen Bratby

Before they arrived, each Advisory Committee member was provided a lengthy document which reviewed each of the past studies to be considered, heavily slanted to discredit any positive results from these studies. This came as no surprise, since the agency has a long history of promoting the interests of the food, chemical and pharmaceutical giants.

One of the curious claims made by the FDA background paper was that there is no dose effect of food dyes above 10 mg. If that were true, whether a child consumes one piece of colored candy or the entire bag, the effects would be the same!

During the hearings, the Advisory Committee listened first to the presentations by Dr. Jacobson of CSPI, and then Dr. Bernard Weiss, a toxicologist and member of the FAUS advisory board. Next, I presented the Feingold perspective, showing that there is a clear dose-relationship when similar studies are presented properly on a graph, but that most of the studies used tiny doses of food dyes.
Download Feingold slide show that will blow your mind!!
My slide show included laboratory reports on several foods, including red frosting, revealing that one cupcake could have more than five times the amount of food dye used in many of the studies. I pointed out that according to the FDA's own calculations, the total amount of dye that a "high consumer" would eat totals over 400 mg per day, and I suggested that future research be done using that amount. 

It was gratifying to see that the Advisory Committee really "got it" and were aware of how unrealistic most of the studies were. You can see and hear the ten-minute Feingold presentation here. It should open directly as a slide show with voice, but in some browsers it opens as a regular power point with slides - if so, click on Slide Show: View Show to run the slide show. Don't forget to turn on your speakers.


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