Since candy is probably the #1 source of artificial food dyes in the American diet*, we are very proud to offer alternatives at Natural Candy Store. Our selection of dye-free candy is the biggest and best you'll find anywhere!
There are several good reasons to avoid consuming artificial food dyes, but one of the most common ones we hear from our customers is the association with hyperactivity.
Here's a little background on the issue—what we've learned over the past few years, while running our dye-free** business, about the relationship between food dyes and hyperactivity.
It all started with Dr. Ben Feingold. His 1975 book, Why Your Child is Hyperactive, introduced the idea of a connection between ADHD and diet. Feingold argued that synthetic food additives, including food colors, trigger hyperactivity.
In the decades since, the non-profit Feingold Association of the United States has been tirelessly educating the public about the bad effects of food dyes. Individuals and families following the Feingold Program go dye-free to help reduce symptoms associated with ADHD, autism, and other behavioral issues.
Jump ahead to 2007. Awareness of the issue grew significantly after the publication of what is referred to as the Southampton Study. Published in the British medical journal The Lancet, and later endorsed by The American Academy of Pediatrics, the study found a link between artificial colors and hyperactive behavior in children. (Actually, to be precise, they tested a mixture of different FD&C colors combined with the preservative sodium benzoate.)
Supporting Feingold’s hypothesis, this finding was welcomed by those following a Feingold diet, many of whom had faced skepticism from doctors and others for years.
In the UK, the study's findings led to new labeling laws, and many food manufacturers in Europe reformulated their products. Today, numerous name-brand food products found on supermarket shelves in the UK state on the front label: "No Artificial Flavours, No Artificial Colours" (NAFNAC).
Back in the US, the non-profit Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned the FDA in 2008 to ban synthetic food dyes. However, consumer awareness of the issue remained relatively low. (Yes, Europe is ahead of the US on this and other food issues...)
Finally, in March 2011, the FDA held hearings to examine the matter, resulting in a number of news stories and media mentions at the time. While the FDA Advisory Committee decided against warning labels, they did call for more research on the relationship between synthetic food dyes and hyperactivity.
And so the debate continues...
We’re not doctors, scientists, politicians, or lobbyists. We’re just a candy store. A candy store run by people who care about ingredients, and we're thrilled this important issue is finally starting to receive the attention it deserves in the US.
As more consumers learn where artificial FD&C colors come from (i.e. petroleum and coal tar—yuck!), there will certainly be greater pressure on the big food manufacturers to replace them with natural alternatives. In 2012, Mars asked the FDA for approval to use spirulina as a blue dye in candy and chewing gum, but we haven't seen any spirulina-blue M&Ms yet. In the spring of 2013, bloggers petitioned Kraft to remove artificial dyes from the iconic Macaroni & Cheese, garnering significant media attention and new public awareness of the issue.
The best part of our job is helping our customers find treats they can enjoy without the worry of ingredients making them sick. To us it just makes common sense to avoid eating synthetic chemicals, but we also hear many reports from customers about the very real ill health effects artificial dyes have on them and their families—including hives, allergic reactions, hyperactivity, headaches and more.
You can rest assured that every single product at Natural Candy Store is free of synthetic food dyes. We work hard to find, and make available to you, the best fun, yummy, and colorful candies free of all artificial ingredients.
*Ok, I'm not sure about this statistic, but it seems very plausible! I wonder which product categories do account for the most dye usage. My wild guess is candy, beverages and pharmaceuticals. And maybe Jello? Oh, and of course mac & cheese... Does anyone out there know the breakdown?
**"Dye-free" is short for "artificial dye-free" or "FD&C dye-free." This doesn't mean natural candy is colorless! What a bummer that would be. All the pretty colors found in the candies we carry are derived from natural, primarily plant-based sources likes beets and carrots. Plants not petroleum!