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KIVI-TV Today's 6: Idaho's News "Seeing Red" Over Red Dye 40

Parents both around the world and locally are claiming the food additive Red Dye 40 is causing their children to act out-of-control.
Some parents say, once their children consume products containing the additive, they develop behavior that ranges from hyperactivity to violent and aggressive behavior.

The potential link between Red Dye 40 and child hyperactivity prompted six European countries  -- Denmark, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom-- to pull the color from food supplies.

But yet, we still use it here in the United States.  And it’s everywhere. 

It’s in products like toothpaste, cough syrup, even healthy products like fruit yogurt -- virtually anything that is colored.

Dietitian Staci Kidder with the Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, says Red Dye 40 can even be in products that do not appear red. “Chocolate pudding has red dye in it to make it appear less green,” she told us.

Kidder’s family avoids all food additives.

Meantime, Boise chiropractor Dr. Josh McKim says he’s seen firsthand the benefits of removing Red Dye 40 from a child’s diet. “Our office manager’s son was having behavioral problems and she wanted to avoid using medication. We recommended she take him off Red Dye 40 -- and his behavior did a 180 (turnaround) and really improved.”

Today’s Channel 6 asked the Food and Drug Administration why we still use Red Dye 40 for consumption in the United States, even though other countries have pulled it from shelves. The FDA’s Northwest spokesman said the study done in England was on mixtures and ‘”It’s results cannot be clearly linked to consumption of a specific color additive used in the United States.”

Dr. Angel Zieba with Meridian Pediatrics looked at the England studies as well. She concluded the studies are too small to make a recommendation for the general public.  She says, for over twenty years, the United States has been studying the potential link to Red Dye 40 and childhood hyperactivity, but clinically cannot prove a connection.

But she doesn’t deny it is possible that parents may see some type of reaction to Red Dye 40 in their children. “Five percent of the population could be having some type of response (to the additive),” says Dr. Zieba. She adds,  if a parent notices a lack of Red Dye improves their child’s behavior, leave it out.  But she is also quick to remind us, that kids do need the freedom to be just that – kids.

“If a child has a red lollipop once in a while, the world is not going to end. Kids are going to be kids. But, it definitely should NOT be in their everyday diet,” she recommends.

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