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Children's Health

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FDA Panel Opposes Warning Labels for Food Dyes

Advisory Panel Says There’s No Proof That Food Dyes Cause Hyperactivity in Kids
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

March 31, 2011 -- In an 8-6 vote, an FDA advisory panel rejected recommending new warning labels for the huge number of food products that use artificial food colors.

The FDA convened the panel to review a petition from a consumer group that wants the FDA to ban eight of the nine federally approved food dyes. The European Union already requires warning labels on foods containing the dyes.

By an 11-3 vote, the panel agreed with the FDA's conclusion that there's no solid proof that food dyes cause or worsen hyperactivity in children.

The panel also voted 13-1 that doctors should not recommend food-dye-free diets to parents of children with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), but should support parents who think giving such diets a try might be helpful to their children. This is the same advice given by a 1982 panel that discussed the issue.

Frustrated by the lack of definitive information, the panel voted 13-1 that the National Institutes of Health should support more research into a possible link between food dyes and ADHD.

The votes came on the second day of a two-day hearing. On the first day of the hearing, the panel heard FDA experts present their interpretation of existing data, followed by a presentation by the petitioners, the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

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