Food dye risks need more study: U.S. panel

Study the link between food coloring and childhood hyperactivity but warning labels not needed, advisory panel tells U.S. regulator.
Artificial dyes are used to colour foods such as cereal, ketchup and snacks. (Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press)

An advisory panel to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recommended that the agency further study the link between food colouring and childhood hyperactivity, but said products that contain the dyes do not need package warnings.

The committee, made up of doctors, academics and consumer representatives, narrowly voted 8-6 that food packages don't need warnings flagging food colourings that could affect attention deficit disorder in children. Packages now must list the food colourings, but there is no warning about a possible link to hyperactivity.

The panel agreed with the FDA and affirmed that there is not enough evidence to show that certain food dyes cause hyperactivity in the general population of children. They also agreed that diets eliminating food dyes may work for some children.

Health Canada is completing its review of comments received during a 2010 consultation on proposed improvements to labelling of food dyes. The department encourages food manufacturers to voluntarily declare food colours by their individual common names on food labels.