Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Maryland Bill Would Require Warning for Synthetic Food Colorings

Maryland S.B. 101 would require food manufacturers to place a warning label to foods that contain artificial color. This bill would require that, from January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2011, food products that contain specific color additives include the following warning label:

“Warning: The color additives in this food may cause hyperactivity and behavioral problems in some children.”

The labeling requirement also applies to all menus and food advertising notices. Beginning January 1, 2012, the bill prohibits the sale, purchase, use, or selling of food products containing the specified color additives. Violators would be subject to the same penalties as those that apply to adulterated and misbranded foods.

The eight coloring specified in the bill are: FD&C Blue No. 1; FD&C Blue No. 2; FD&C Green No. 3; FD&C Orange B; FD&C Red No. 3; FD&C Red No. 40; FD&C Yellow No. 5; and FD&C Yellow No. 6.

All synthetic food coloring must be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Seven of these colorings are fully approved by FDA as safe for use in foods.  FDA restricts the use of Orange B to casings or surfaces of frankfurters and sausages. (Citrus Red No. 2, which is not included in the bill, is restricted to being used on the skins of oranges not intended for processing.)

In its approval process, the FDA evaluates safety data to ensure that a color additive is safe for its intended purposes. Absolute safety of any substance can never be proven, therefore, FDA’s approval of  colorings and other food additives is made on the best scientific evidence available.  Recent studies (2) have suggested a relationship between artificial colors and hyperactivity in some sensitive children (but not all hyperactive children).  CSPI has petitioned FDA to ban these synthetic colorings.

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