International Food Information Council Provides Common Sense Context to FDA Hearing on Food Colors

Contact Info: 

Contact Matt Raymond or Jania Matthews at 202-296-6540 or media@foodinsight.org

(Washington, D.C.) – In comments submitted to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in advance of today’s hearing on food colors and hyperactivity in children, the International Food Information Council (IFIC) highlighted the lack of sound scientific evidence that links food colors and hyperactivity and provided consumer insights that show a low level of concern by the majority of Americans about food colors in the foods they purchase and consume.

According to David Schmidt, IFIC President and CEO, “Food colors add to our enjoyment of food by maintaining or improving their appearance. Without sufficient scientific evidence that a causal link truly exists between food colors and hyperactivity in children, communications that suggest a link could have unintended consequences, including unnecessarily frightening consumers about safe ingredients that are consumed every day. Misguided theories dilute the impact of advice from health professionals on methods that have been found through scientific research to be truly effective in treating AD/HD, such as medication and behavior modification.”

IFIC’s full comments submitted to the FDA are available on a special “Hot Topics: Food Colors” page on the International Food Information Council Foundation website, FoodInsight.org. In addition to the comments, the IFIC Foundation has several resources on food colors, including videos featuring Keith Ayoob, EdD, RD, FADA, Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics and Director Albert Einstein College of Medicine discussing the limitations of the 2007 UK Southampton food colors study (McCann et al., 2007), which is the most recent study to spark debate on this issue. Ayoob says:

“At first glance, it appeared that the coloring was more associated with hyperactivity than the placebo in this study. However, when the groups were adjusted for factors such as the week during the trial, gender, maternal education level, their pretrial diet, socioeconomic status, and their global hyperactivity aggregate score in the pre-trial week – all significant factors to control – then another, more accurate picture emerges.  The older children were more likely to exhibit symptoms at the higher dose but the younger children were more likely to show symptoms at the lowest dose.  These results are inconsistent with what would be expected if colorings were truly the responsible agent.”

The FDA and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have both reviewed the Southampton study, and each found that the study did not support a link between the color additives that were tested and behavioral effects.

The IFIC Foundation Hot Topics page also includes a “Food Ingredients and Colors” brochure which was produced in under a partnering agreement with the FDA in 2004, and was updated in April 2010 to include FDA’s review of the Southampton study.

For more on International Food Information Council Foundation food ingredient resources and any other questions, please contact the IFIC media team at 202-296-6540, Mittenthal@ific.org or Matthews@ific.org.

The International Food Information Council's (IFIC's) mission is to effectively communicate science-based information on food safety and nutrition to health and nutrition professionals, educators, journalists, government officials and others providing information to consumers. IFIC is supported primarily by the broad-based food, beverage and agricultural industries. IFIC and IFIC Foundation materials can be found on our Web site: www.foodinsight.org.

The International Food Information Council Foundation’s mission is to effectively communicate science-based information on health, nutrition, and food safety for the public good.  Additional information on the Foundation is available on the “About” section of our Website.  For interviews with experts or other questions please, call (202)296-6540.