A nutritionally conscious modern mother will no doubt be aware of recent media chatter surrounding artificial food colorings. The FDA recently convened a panel to look at artificial food colorings and their potential role in behavioral problems in children. What did the panel of experts recommend? More research.
This modern mother is hardly on the vanguard of nutritional correctness and has been known, in a pinch, to serve her children artificially orange mac and cheese or sometimes permit the consumption of blue cotton candy. (Gag.) Yet, she can’t help but wonder, do we really need to spend millions of dollars on this? Do we need a mountain of research telling us that something leads to asthma, or obesity, or hyperactivity, or grotesque warts before we decide to avoid it?
Here is where we might want to review a few facts: (1) artificial colorings are derived from petroleum; (2) though science has not conclusively shown them to be linked to adverse health effects, they add no nutritional value; (3) they do not change or enhance the flavor of food. So, what is the upside? The value of these colorings lies in their ability to make mediocre food more appealing; the winner is not those who are duped into ingesting FD&C Yellow No. 6, but the companies who use food colorings to sell their processed products.
We shouldn’t need the government to ban artificial food colorings; we should all just have the common sense to avoid them. Imagine a world where we collectively said no. The FDA could save its research money for some thing else. (Maybe they could work on approving some life saving drugs?) Seeing no demand for chemically colored foodstuffs, food industry would see no reason to make them and could send their research staff scurrying off to invent new “food products” to entice the American consumer. And we wouldn’t have to read another news story about it.
Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods are able to stock entire grocery stores with a panoply of products while eschewing artificial food coloring, shouldn’t we be able to kit out our kitchens? Maybe our gummy bears and jelly beans would glow a little less brightly, but no doubt we would all adjust. Think perspective, and be strong as the time for Easter candy approaches.
P.S. To anyone who might claim that Cheetos without artificial orange don’t taste good, can we suggest they try a sample of Pirate's Booty?
* photo from the fabulous food blog, Out Best Bites.