A Colorful History of Food Colors [INFOGRAPHIC]

I am sure you have heard of the phrase “we eat with our eyes.” This common phrase is especially meaningful in the realm of food colors, as food coloring has been in existence for more than 2,000 years, starting in 300 BCE when artificial colors were used to color wine.

You may be questioning, “Why are food colors used?” Well, food colors, both natural and artificial, help to correct for color loss due to exposure to light, air, temperature extremes, moisture and storage conditions; correct natural variations in color; enhance colors that occur naturally; and provide color to colorless foods.

You also may be wondering, “Are food colors used in food production safe?” Yes! Food colors, both natural and artificial, have had federal oversight for more than 125 years and continued to be studied and regulated to ensure their safety. To learn more about the history of food colors, turn to this infographic timeline!

If you are a parent, you may be wondering, "Do food colors cause hyperactivity?" After rigorous scientific review and evaluation, the FDA confirmed in 2011 that there is no significant evidence to link food colors and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).  It’s important to note that the panel did conclude that for some children with ADHD and a confirmed food allergy, reducing or removing food colors from their diets produced some improvement in behavior. You can learn more about the FDA’s findings from the 2011 report. Bottom line: Food colors do not cause hyperactivity.