The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) released the following statement, just in time for Halloween:
"British candy has all the sugar of American candy, and it’s certainly not health food, but as Halloween approaches, it's a shame that American kids trick-or-treat for candy dyed with discredited chemicals while British families have many of the same foods, minus the dyes."
That’s because earlier this year the UK’s equivalent to the American’s FDA, the UK’s Food Standards Agency, asked food companies to voluntarily recall artificial colours in food by 2009. Moreover, the European Parliament approved a warning on packages containing food dyes: “May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children”.
Although synthetic food dyes have been suspected of affecting children’s behaviour since the 70s, two recent British studies found a direct link between food dyes (with the common preservative sodium benzoate) and impaired attention and hyperactivity in children.
According to the FDA, Americans consume 5 times as much food dye as they did 30 years ago. Attention Deficit Disorder is also a growing concern for many parents. However, the FDA and Health Canada maintain that there isn’t sufficient evidence to ban the use of food dyes. As a result, The CSPI has submitted a petition to the FDA requesting they ban eight artificial food colours: Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Red 3, Red 40, Orange B and Yellow 6 (tartrazine). They’re also requesting that the FDA include warnings on packages containing these food dyes.
In the UK, Fanta orange soda gets its colour from pumpkin and carrot extract, while in the States, it gets its colour from Red 40 and Yellow 6. McDonald’s strawberry sundaes are coloured with Red 40 in North America but with real strawberries in the U.K. Starburst Chews and Skittles, both Mars products, also contain synthetic food dyes in the U.S. but not in the U.K.
Hope I didn’t put a downer on your Halloween. Enjoy your Halloween candy... in moderation, of course!
Remember that October 31st is not just about candy, it’s National Unicef Day. On Oct 31st 1949, five goodhearted kids went door-to-door in Philadelphia to collect money for other kids in post war Europe. They raised $17 and donated it to Unicef. ‘Trick-or-Treat for Unicef’ was launched and in 1966, US President Lyndon Johnson pronounced October 31st National Unicef Day, stating: “Mrs. Johnson and I hope that our fellow citizens this year will once again join in bringing the opportunity for a better life to more of the world's children."