Effect of Food Coloring on Children’s Behaviors

images

 

Color is one of the critical factors to the quality of the food. Food dyes or food colorings are food additives in the form of natural dyes and synthetic dyes, which when added or applied to the food is able to provide or improve the color. As same as other food additives, there are ADI for most of food dyes. ADI (Acceptable Daily Intake) is the maximum amount of food additive in milligrams per kilogram of body weight which can be consumed every day for life without causing adverse effects on health. The higher the ADI indicated the lower potential of the toxicity. ADI is not expressed or ADI not specified / ADI not limited / ADI acceptable / no ADI Allocated / no ADI Necessary are the terms used for food additives that have a very low toxicity, based on the data (chemical, biochemical, toxicological and other data) intake the food additives when used in doses needed to achieve the desired effect as well as other considerations, in the opinion of the Joint FAO / WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) did not pose a danger to health.

Natural food coloring is food dyes that created through a process of extraction, isolation, or derivatization (partial synthesis) of plant, animal, mineral or other natural resources, including natural identical colors . In Indonesia, based on BPOM RI (Indonesian’s FDA) Regulation No. 37in 2013, the following is a list of natural dyes approved for use in food products:

No.INSNatural Food ColoringSynonymADI
1100(i)Curcumin CI. No. 75300 Turmeric yellow; diferuloylmethane; kurkum; C.I natural yellow 3 0-3 mg/kg body
2101(i)Riboflavin, syntheticVitamin B2; lactoflavin0-0,5 mg/kg body weight
101(ii)Riboflavin 5'-phosphate sodium Riboflavin 5'-phosphate ester monosodium salt; vitamin b2 phosphate ester monosodium salt
101(iii)Riboflavin (Bacillus subtilis) [Riboflavin (Bacillus subtilis)]Vitamin B2; lactoflavin
3120Carmines CI. No. 75470 armine; cochineal carmine; C.I. Natural red 4; hydrated aluminium chelate of carminic acid (7-beta-Dglucopyranosyl-3,5,6,8-tetrahydroxy-1-methyl-9,10-dioxoanthracene-2-carboxylic acid)0-5 mg/kg body weight
Cochineal extract CI. No. 75470 C.I.Natural red 4, 7-beta-D-glucopyranosyl-3,5,6,8- tetrahydroxy-1-methyl-9,10-dioxoanthracene-2-carboxylic acidNo ADI Allocated
4140Chlorophyll CI. No. 75810 Magnesium chlorophyll; magnesium phaeophytin; C.I natural green 3not limited
5141(i)Chlorophylls, Copper Complexes CI. No. 75810 Copper chlorophyll; copper phaeophytin; C.I. natural green 30-15 mg/kg body weight
141(ii)Chlorophyllin copper complexes, sodium and potassium salts CI. No. 75815 Potassium copper chlorophyllin; Sodium copper chlorophyllin
6150aCaramel I – plainPlain caramel; caustic carameltidak dinyatakan (not specified)

Synthetic food coloring is food dyes obtained by chemical synthesis. Based on BPOM RI Regulation No. 37 in 2013, the following is a list of synthetic dyes approved for use in food products:

NoINSSynthetic Food ColoringSynonymADI      
1102Tartrazine CI. No. 19140 C.I. food yellow 4; F.D and C yellow no. 5; EEC serial no. E1020-7,5 mg/kg body weight
2104Quinoline yellow CI. No. 47005 C.I. food yellow 130-10 mg/kg body weight (2006)
0-5 mg/kg body weight (2011, tentative)
3110Sunset yellow FCF CI. No. 15985 CI Food Yellow 3; Orange Yellow S0-4 mg/kg body weight
4122Azorubine (carmoisine)CI. No. 14720 Azorubine; food red 30-4 mg/kg body weight
 

Consumption of food containing synthetic dyes may effect children’s behavior: myth or fact?

The possibility of a relationship between consumption of certain foods with behavioral problem of children, such as hyperactivity and difficulty to concentrate have started to appear around 1970. A common condition called ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a disorder in brain development that causes the sufferer to be hyperactive, impulsive, and difficult in focusing or concentrating. Over the last 40 years, many research studies the relationship between these conditions with the consumption of food containing artificial coloring. The following is a summary of the results of several studies to review the relationship between deviant behavior and the consumption of foods containing synthetic coloring:

JournalsResearchersStudiesFindings (associated to artificial food coloring)
J.Pediatr. 1994 Nov;125(5 Pt 1):691-8Rowe, K.S & Rowe, K.JSynthetic food coloring and behavior: a dose response effect in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, repeated-measures studyChanges in behavior such as anger , anxiety , and sleep disorders associated with the consumption of food dye tartrazine in some children
J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2004; 25:423-34.Schab DW, Trinh N-H TDo Artificial Food Colorings Promote Hyperactivity in Children with Hyperactive Syndromes? A Meta-Analysis of Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trials.The meta - analysis published in 2004, analyzed nearly three decades of research and found that there is a strong association between the consumption of synthetic food dyes to hyperactivity condition
Archives of Disease in Childhood. 2004; 89:506-11Bateman B, Warner JO, Hutchinson E, et alThe Effects of a Double Blind, Placebo Controlled, Artificial Food Colourings and Benzoate Preservative Challenge on Hyperactivity in a General Population Sample of Preschool Children.”In general, there are side effects of synthetic food colorings and benzoate preservative on the behavior of children aged 3 years which is detected by the parents, but not by clinical examination .
Lancet. 2007(Nov 3); 370:1560-7McCann D, Barrett A, Cooper A, et al“Food Additives and Hyperactive Behaviour in 3-Year-Old and 8/9-Year-Old Children in the Community: A Randomized, Double-Blinded, Placebo-Controlled TrialSynthetic food colorings and the preservative sodium benzoate or diet increased hyperactivity in children aged 3 years and 8/9 years in the general population
Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 51(1): 86-97.e8, January 2012.Nigg JT, Lewis K, Edinger T, Falk M. Meta-Analysis of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder or AttentionDeficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms, Restriction Diet, and Synthetic Food Color AdditivesMeta - analysis published in 2012, also sponsored by the food industry. It was found that dietary restrictions (including the use of food coloring ) may be beneficial for patients with ADHD . Significant effects associated with food coloring permitted by the FDA and the researchers consider the findings are “too substantial to dismiss”
Amer J of Psychiatry. 2013 Mar 1; 170(3):275-89.
Sonuga-Barke EJ, Brandeis D, Cortese S, Daley D, Ferrin M, Holtmann M, et al.Nonpharmacological Interventions for ADHD: Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses of Randomized Controlled Trials of Dietary and Psychological TreatmentsThe meta-analysis of 6 treatments non-pharmacological ADHD concluded that by eliminating synthetic dyes from the diet, can reduce ADHD symptoms significantly in subjects who have been selected based on the sensitivity to food even though the analysis is limited to studies in which the subjects do not know treatment given (blind to treatment)

 

Based on research Bateman et. al ( 2004 ) and Mc.Cann e.t al ( 2007 ) from the University of Southampton , sponsored by the British Government, finally in 2008 , the UK Food Standards Agency officially banned the use of some synthetic food dyes, including E110 (Sunset Yellow FCF) , E104 (Quinoline yellow) , E122 (Carmoisine) , E129 (Allura Red AC) , E102 (Tartrazine) and E124 (Ponceau 4R) . It also came into effect in other countries in the European region. MEPs also require the warning “may have adverse effects on the activity and concentration of children” on the label any foods containing artificial dyes throughout the European region.

 

Meanwhile, in the US, of the six synthetic dyes, only Ponceau 4R & Karmoisin that are prohibitted, while the four other synthetic dyes (Sunset Yellow FCF, Quinoline Yellow, Tartrazine and Allura Red) are still allowed. In 2008, CSPI (The Center for Science in the Public Interest) issued a petition to the USFDA (US Food & Drug Administration) to ban the use of 8 of 9 BTP synthetic dyes in the US. In response to this petition, after evaluating many studies on the effects of synthetic food dyes to behavioral deviations, finally in 2011 the USFDA concluded that the association between exposure of food dyes with hyperactivity of children in the general population is uncertain. In children with deviant behavior such as ADHD, their condition may be exacerbated by exposure to certain foods and food components, including but not limited to synthetic dyes. Findings from clinical trials that are relevant shows that the effect on their behavior appears to be due intolerance unique and not because of the substance is neurotoxic, so currently the only FDA requires that all food additives are mentioned explicitly in the food label so that consumers can avoid them if they are allergic to food additives, while in Indonesia, six synthetic dyes are still included in the list of permitted food coloring in BPOM regulation.

 

From the above summary, it can be seen that the relationship between impaired concentration and hyperactivity in children with the consumption of food containing dyes (especially synthetic dyes) possibility is not just a myth. If indeed the use of food dye cannot be avoided altogether, choose natural dyes and avoid the use of synthetic ones. Take a good look at the composition of the food label when purchasing the food products. Although the food products on the market has been secured if it registered to BPOM because of its content of food additives will not exceed the maximum limit allowed by BPOM regulation, it’s better to limit consumption of products containing food dyes, especially the 6 types of synthetic dyes.

 

References:

Bateman B, Warner JO, Hutchinson E, et al. “The Effects of a Double Blind, Placebo Controlled, Artificial Food Colourings and Benzoate Preservative Challenge on Hyperactivity in a General Population Sample of Preschool Children.” Archives of Disease in Childhood. 2004; 89:506-11; 

EU Action: European Parliament. European Parliament legislative resolution of 8 July 2008 on the Council common position for adopting a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council of food additives.

FDA FAC (Food and Drug Administration Food Advisory Committee). “Overview and Evaluation of Proposed Association Between Artificial Food Colors and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders (ADHD) and Problem Behaviors in Children.” 2011a. At http://www.fda.gov/downloads/AdvisoryCommittees/CommitteesMeetingMaterials/FoodAdvisoryCommittee/UCM273033 .pdf

McCann D, Barrett A, Cooper A, et al. “Food Additives and Hyperactive Behaviour in 3-Year-Old and 8/9-Year-Old Children in the Community: A Randomized, Double-Blinded, Placebo-Controlled Trial.” Lancet. 2007(Nov 3); 370:1560-7.

Nigg JT, Lewis K, Edinger T, Falk M. “Meta-Analysis of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder or AttentionDeficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms, Restriction Diet, and Synthetic Food Color Additives.” Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 51(1): 86-97.e8, January 2012.

Peraturan Kepala BPOM RI No. 37 Tahun 2013 Tentang Batas Maksimum Penggunaan Bahan Tambahan Pangan Pewarna.

Rowe, K.S & Rowe, K.J. Synthetic food coloring and behavior: a dose response effect in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, repeated-measures study. J Pediatr. 1994 Nov;125(5 Pt 1):691-8.

Schab DW, Trinh N-H T. “Do Artificial Food Colorings Promote Hyperactivity in Children with Hyperactive Syndromes? A Meta-Analysis of Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trials.” J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2004; 25:423-34.

Sonuga-Barke EJ, Brandeis D, Cortese S, Daley D, Ferrin M, Holtmann M, et al. “Nonpharmacological Interventions for ADHD: Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses of Randomized Controlled Trials of Dietary and Psychological Treatments.” Amer J of Psychiatry. 2013 Mar 1; 170(3):275-89.

Stevenson J, Buitelaar J, Cortese S, Ferrin M, Konofal E, et al. “Research Review: The Role of Diet in the Treatment of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder – An Appraisal of the Evidence on Efficacy and Recommendations on the Design of Future Studies.” Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. First published online, February 19, 2014.

UK Food Standards Agency. “Products Free From the Colours Associated with Hyperactivity.” At http://www.food.gov.uk/policy-advice/additivesbranch/foodcolours/colourfree/

Zulkarnain, M. R. 2015. Efek Konsumsi Bahan Pangan yang Mengandung BTP Pewarna pada Anak. Food for Kids Indonesia, December 2015 edition (p.36-41).