Study: 43 Percent of Foods Marketed to Kids Contain Dyes

Fresh off its victory in pushing the Food and Drug Administration to roll out sodium reduction targets, the Center for Science in the Public Interest is setting its sights on another top issue: food dyes.

The consumer advocacy group is trumpeting a study set to publish the journal “Clinical Pediatrics” in which researchers found that 43 percent of food products marketed to children contain artificial coloring.

Out of 810 products examined, 350 contained additives such as Red 40, Yellow 5 and other colorings, the study, co-authored by CSPI president Michael Jacobson, said.

“Candies marketed to kids had the highest proportion of products with artificial dyes (96 percent) followed by fruit-flavored snacks (95 percent), drink mixes and powders (90 percent), and frozen breakfast foods (86 percent),” CSPI said in a June 13 web post announcing the study.

Kraft Foods Group, Inc. used dyes the most of food makers examined. Out of 105 Kraft products studied, 66 percent contained dye additives, researchers said.

Macaroni and cheese

CSPI has long pushed the FDA to ban artificial dyes in foods, arguing that research has linked some to hyperactivity and other behavioral problems in children.

Color additives are subject to FDA approval before food makers can use them, and many groups such as the Grocery Manufacturers Association say that there is no demonstrable link between dyes and health problems in kids.

But color additives have taken at hit in the public sphere as consumer groups have highlighted research into their health effects.

Kraft itself has bent to consumer demand. In 2013, the company said it would tone down the iconic neon orange color of its macaroni and cheese by removing artificial dyes following an online petition.