Where those food colourings come from and why avoidance is the best move! –

Each pigment affects Alex differently, Rebecca said.

“So red … he can’t pay attention and he’s impulsive. Green makes him manic. Blue makes him grumpy and tired. Yellow is the worst. He’s explosive and it leads to suicidal ideation.”

Alex is not alone in these types of reactions, says Lisa Lefferts, a senior scientist for the Center for Science in the Public Interest.“We’ve been contacted by over 2,000 families reporting their experiences with food dyes,” she said. “The parents say that when their child is off of dyes they’re just lovely children. On dyes they’re like a completely different person.”

Lefferts is lobbying the Food and Drug Administration to follow Europe’s example on dyes: The E.U. requires manufacturers to add a warning label to foods with artificial coloring that says they “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”

Most European companies avoid the label by switching to natural dyes like beet juice and Spirulina extract. A few American companies have followed suit. Kraft Macaroni and Cheese now uses turmeric and paprika to turn its noodles bright yellow. But substitutions like these aren’t widespread in the U.S, because natural dyes are more expensive and less stable.

The FDA has approved nine colors for use in processed food and other products like sunscreen, cough syrup and pills. The synthetic additives are made from petroleum and are contained in at least 90% of candies, fruit-flavored snacks, and drink mixes marketed to kids. It’s also in 40% of all food products designed for children. The agency has determined there’s not enough evidence to support adding a warning label to these products, and in 2011, after reviewing 35 years of research, it declined to impose any new regulations on manufacturers.

Source: What You Need to Know About the Food Dye in Holiday Treats | KQED Science