Americans don’t really care about artificial dyes in their food. That’s the message a Kraft spokesperson gives in a recent Chicago Tribune story about nutrition and food safety advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest’s efforts to get the FDA to ban certain dyes. Artificial additives in food, and their possible effect on children’s behavior, have been big issues in England recently, stirring grass-roots activism that has forced food producers to change. Last September, a well-publicized study linked hyperactivity in kids to the additives they ingested. In response, British supermarket chains dropped artificial dyes and flavors from their house brands; big food companies such as Kraft and Mars replaced artificial dyes with natural ones in products such as Skittles and Lunchables; and British McDonald’s restaurants switched to natural colorings for their strawberry shakes.
Meanwhile, the U.S. versions of these foods still contain artificial dyes and additives. (American Mickey-D strawberry shakes continue to use the controversial Red 40). The FDA’s position is that there is “no scientific evidence to support the claim that colorings or other food additives cause hyperactivity.” U.S. consumers are currently more concerned about “calorie, fat and sodium content” than dyes, according to Kraft. It’ll be interesting to see if the overseas groundswell takes hold here, or if artificial additives remain in the pink.