In Brief

Does brightly-colored food makes us happy? Do petroleum-based dyes cause hyperactivity in children? The Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Institute of Food Technologists explain their views on the controversial subject.

In response to a call to ban artificial coloring in food by advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest and its claim that petroleum-based dyes cause hyperactivity in children, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration agreed to a rare reassessment of federal position. While the FDA advisory panel was inconclusive that any link existed between artificial color in food and hyperactivity, it did admit that synthetic dyes may exacerbate pre-existing behavior problems in children, but not enough of a problem to warrant label warnings.

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