For sure you’ve noticed how bright colors tend to evoke your tastebuds and make the food even more stimulating to eat. Manufacturers understood this psychology very well – of how color aesthetics play a big role in the psychological functioning of every human person; thereby affecting emotions, cognition, and behavior.1 That’s why candies and vegan gummies come in a beautiful splash of rainbow colors.
Not only that these hues conjure the flavors of the products, but our brains also find it easier to associate food colors with safety and nutritional value.2 But, while these food colors seem to not pose any harm, have you ever wondered if food coloring is safe to ingest? With so many colorful chewables available in the market, is food coloring safe for kids? Are there any side effects to consuming food that is artificially colored?
Here’s What You Need to Know About Food Coloring
Here we spark some light on the undiscussed issues on one of the food ingredients that is often left unnoticed by many: food coloring. With the growing concerns on safety pertaining to food colorants4 – particularly with the replacement of synthetic forms with natural products – let’s find out how these additives are actually affecting our lives.
Children ages five to sixteen are very much exposed to food coloring.
Without us realizing it, we are more exposed to food dyes than we could ever imagine. In a recent study published by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, it was found that children ages 5 – 16 have a median total exposure to dye of about 0.23 milligrams per kilogram of body weight per day.4 With a wide range of food and beverages – like cereals, ice creams, juice, and confectionaries – made available in the market, it is no wonder why children have such high levels of artificial colors. What’s bothering though is that, for such a small physique, they’re taking a much higher dose that is no longer relative to their body.
All food dyes are regulated by the FDA.
With studies linking the use of artificial colors to hyperactive behavior, the European Union, the United States, and many other countries worldwide have strictly regulated the use of food dyes.3
At present, there are nine FDA-approved color additives that can be utilized in the United States in food, drugs, cosmetics, and medical devices.5 Out of the nine dyes, eight are sourced from petroleum. There are also those that are coming from plants and minerals – and in some cases, there are those that come from insects too.6
In order to regulate the use of these food dyes, there is a current standard followed on the safety norms and conditions. These color additives must meet the purity standards (done by sending the manufactured batch to FDA’s Color Certification Laboratory for physical and chemical testing). Also, products that use artificial dyes are required to list them among the ingredients of the product.
It is to note that all these nine synthetic dyes were established based on animal testing that was conducted between 1966 and 1987. Also, once the additive has been cleared by the FDA, there’s no additional requirement to have them reassessed for safety.
Food dyes may affect children, according to scientists.
As early as the 1970s, controversies have been going out on the effects of food colors, particularly on children’s developing brains. In 1973, pediatric allergist, Benjamin Feingold proposed that there is a link between pediatric hyperactivity and learning problems and certain food additives.7
Such claims sparked debates and investigations. But in 2011, FDA reported that the relationship between exposure to color additives and hyperactivity in children in the general population has not been established yet.8
However, in 2021, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment has published a very thorough meta-analysis of all the studies done on the subject – starting from 1978 up to the present, including the animal and human clinical trials, as well as the toxicology data. It was found that out of the 27 clinical studies they’ve analyzed, 64% of them have shown a positive association between added food coloring and behavioral problems such as hyperactivity in kids.4
In addition to this, in 2007, scientists in the U.K. have also found a link between artificial food colors and hyperactivity of children ages three and eight to nine years old.9 With this and all related studies, Europe required a warning label on products containing azo dyes. This then led to fewer artificially colored products as manufacturers don’t want to use a warning label.
There’s More that We Have to Know About Food Coloring
As modern scientists continue their search for answers to so many questions revolving around the adverse effect of food coloring on behavior and overall well being, they have also reminded people to be more selective of their food choices. While fresh fruits and vegetables are highly recommended, food experts have also suggested opting for products that contain naturally derived alternatives to synthetic colorants.10
Committed to providing clean products to our conscious business partners, we, at The Omnium Group, make sure that the cannabinoid products, chewable gels, beverages, daily essentials, and treatments that we manufacture come in natural colors and flavors. As a conscious private label, manufacturing company, and bulk supply service provider, we made sure that our products, ingredients, and overall production follows the standard qualities required by the FDA, Cruelty-Free International, USDA Organic, Organic Certifiers, and HACCP Food Safety.
To learn more about our procedures, don’t hesitate to contact us today. Our expertly-trained associates would be happy to walk you through everything that you need to know about the ingredients, product formulation, and overall manufacturing processes of the products we manufacture. Let’s walk together towards a healthier and more conscious future!
1 Elliot AJ, Maier MA. Color psychology: effects of perceiving color on psychological functioning in humans. Annu Rev Psychol. 2014;65:95-120. doi: 10.1146/annurev-psych-010213-115035. Epub 2013 Jun 26. PMID: 23808916.
2 Sigurdson GT, Tang P, Giusti MM. Natural Colorants: Food Colorants from Natural Sources. Annu Rev Food Sci Technol. 2017 Feb 28;8:261-280. doi: 10.1146/annurev-food-030216-025923. Epub 2017 Jan 11. PMID: 28125346.
3 Oplatowska-Stachowiak M, Elliott CT. Food colors: Existing and emerging food safety concerns. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2017 Feb 11;57(3):524-548. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2014.889652. PMID: 25849411.
4 Office of Environmental Health Harzard Assessment. Potential Neurobehavioral Effects of Synthetic Food Dyes in Children. https://oehha.ca.gov/media/downloads/risk-assessment/report/healthefftsassess041621.pdf
5 U.S. Food and Drug. Summary of Color Additives for Use in the United States in Foods, Drugs, Cosmetics, and Medical Devices. https://www.fda.gov/industry/color-additive-inventories/summary-color-additives-use-united-states-foods-drugs-cosmetics-and-medical-devices
6 Luke Yoquinto. The Truth About Red Food Dye Made from Bugs. https://www.livescience.com/36292-red-food-dye-bugs-cochineal-carmine.html
7 Arnold LE, Lofthouse N, Hurt E. Artificial food colors and attention-deficit/hyperactivity symptoms: conclusions to dye for. Neurotherapeutics. 2012 Jul;9(3):599-609. doi: 10.1007/s13311-012-0133-x. PMID: 22864801; PMCID: PMC3441937.
8 Food Advisory Committee. Certified Color Additives in Food and Possible Association with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Children. https://wayback.archive-it.org/org-1137/20170406211659/https:/www.fda.gov/downloads/AdvisoryCommittees/CommitteesMeetingMaterials/FoodAdvisoryCommittee/UCM248549.pdf
9 Donna McCann, PhD. Angelina Barrett, BSc. Alison Cooper, MSc. Debbie Crumpler, BSc. Lindy Dalen, PhD. Kate Grimshaw, MSc. Elizabeth Kitchin, BSc. Kris Lok, MSc. Lucy Porteous, BSc. Emily Prince, MSc. Prof Edmund Sonuga-Barke, PhD. Prof John O Warner, MD. Prof Jim Stevenson, PhD. Food additives and hyperactive behavior in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the community: a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(07)61306-3
10 Sigurdson GT, Tang P, Giusti MM. Natural Colorants: Food Colorants from Natural Sources. Annu Rev Food Sci Technol. 2017 Feb 28;8:261-280. doi: 10.1146/annurev-food-030216-025923. Epub 2017 Jan 11. PMID: 28125346.