Food dyes- used in everything from M&Ms to brightly coloured breakfast cereals to Kraft salad dressings- pose risks of cancer, allergies and hyperactivity in children, and should be banned, according the Centre for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). The new report titled, “Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks”, found that artificial colours in foods may increase the risk of getting cancer, allergies and may trigger hyperactivity (e.g. ADHD) in susceptible children.
CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson, co-author of the report said, “These synthetic chemicals do absolutely nothing to improve the nutritional quality or safety of foods, but trigger behaviour problems in children and, possibly, cancer in anybody.”
According to the CSPI, the colours contain known cancer-causing chemicals that have been shown to cause cancer in experimental rats. Common confectionaries and foods like biscuits, cereals and ice creams contain large amounts of these harmful colours. According to estimates, 7 million of these colours are used in manufacturing foods each year.
Starting July 20th, 2010, European food manufacturers will be forced to put a warning on their food products labels if they contain any of the colours of the “Southampton Six” following a study on the issue. The name Southampton six was given to these six colours after a similar study at the Southampton University in 2008. The six colours known as the Southampton six are: sunset yellow (E110), quinoline yellow (E104), carmoisine (E122), allura red (E129), ponceau 4R (E124), and tartrazine (E102). The warning will read, “May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”
How about in Hong Kong or China? Up to now, the Hong Kong government doesn’t even seem remotely aware of this situation. So, it’s up to you to be a smart consumer.
What Can We Do?
- If you or your child experiences behavioural problems, allergies or attention deficit issues after eating certain foods, find a licensed naturopathic physician who can help you treat the root cause. Dr. Ardyce Yik ND can help treat these conditions naturally.
- Read the labels and avoid buying foods with additives, especially the “Southampton six” (ingredients that begin with “E” followed by a number) or Blue 1, Red 40, Red 3, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6.
- Stop feeding your children (and yourself) processed, artificial foods (e.g. Avoid the cupcakes and donuts that have the colourful (harmful) sprinkles on top). See #4 for healthy snack alternatives.
- Instead of having brightly coloured breakfast cereal which is also usually loaded with sugar and artificial colours, switch to a natural whole-grain cereal or all-natural muesli.
- Instead of artificially flavoured candies and sweets, choose healthy alternatives. Trail mix consisting of apricots, almonds, and sunflower seeds is a healthy and easy-to-make snack that you can store in airtight containers. Chunks of fresh fruit contain many nutrients, are high in fibre and make a refreshing snack. A healthy breakfast or dessert idea- chia seeds soaked in almond milk/ yogurt and topped with fresh berries and chopped almonds. Try freezing strawberries or cherries for a sweet frozen treat. If you really need a sugar fix, try all-natural Manuka honey candy.
If you suspect your health condition is caused by certain foods or additives- and want a thorough medical investigation- or if you want nutritional support and guidance, contact Dr. Yik today.