Hot Topic: Food Colors

Food colors perform a variety of functions in foods and beverages.  Yet, despite thorough reviews by scientists and regulators and decades of safe use, debate periodically occurs regarding food colors and hyperactivity in children.

The following resources provide science-based information regarding common questions about food colors, such as what they are and common foods containing them, how they are regulated in the United States, and whether they cause hyperactivity in children:

In addition, the following expert videos provide key insights on recent food colors and hyperactivity research:

Child nutrition and behavior expert Keith Ayoob, EdD, RD, FADA, Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics and Director of the Nutrition Clinic at Rose F. Kennedy Children’s Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, analyzes a study conducted in 2007 by UK researchers at the University of Southampton on food colors and hyperactivity in children. (McCann et al., 2007) A European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) scientific panel reviewed the study and concluded that the results were inconsistent and insignificant, and could not be used as a basis for changing the currently recommended intake levels of these colors in Europe.

Child nutrition and behavior expert Keith Ayoob, EdD, RD, FADA, Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics and Director of the Nutrition Clinic at Rose F. Kennedy Children’s Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, puts into context the amount of food colors used by Southampton University researchers studying children’s consumption of food colors and effects on hyperactivity. (McCann et al., 2007)