'If given the choice, how many parents would put petrochemicals in their children’s food? But when you buy most children’s foods on grocery store shelves, that’s the decision you’re making. These products are filled with petrochemical-derived ingredients from artificial colors to preservatives. Alarmingly, these ingredients have also been linked with health problems from hyperactivity to cancer.
A study in the journal Clinical Pediatrics examined just artificial food colors, and found these harmful chemicals in 96.3 percent of candies, 94 percent of fruit-flavored snacks and 89.7 percent of drink mixes and powders. When children’s and adult foods were examined together, 43.2 percent of all products were made with artificial colors. Fresh produce was the only food category not made with artificial colors (yes, that means meat, dairy and baked products may all contain fake color!).
The most egregious class of additives is certainly artificial colors, for which a strong body of evidence exists linking them to direct harm to children’s nervous systems. Evidence that artificial colors can produce hyperactive behavior in children has already led European countries to require warning labels on foods containing these ingredients. In fact, the same companies that use artificial colors in children’s products in the U.S. typically use naturally based colors for the same products in Europe.
On food labels, watch out for anything labeled a “dye” — a synthetic, petroleum-based coloring chemical, or a “lake” — the same color, but reformulated to be water-insoluble for use in dry or fatty foods. According to Center for Science in the Public Interest, the best policy is to avoid all foods made with artificial colors, not just because of the potential for health risks, but because artificially colored foods are typically low in nutritional value.'
Read more: Candy carcinogens: Petroleum-based additives are being used in popular children’s candy
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