IACM Statement on Final OEHHA Report

Media Contact: Anna Carver
[email protected]
202-293-5800 

April 16, 2021 

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The International Association of Color Manufacturers (IACM), which represents both color manufacturers and consumer product companies that use color, believes that the safety of the food and drug supply is of paramount importance to all consumers, including children. IACM appreciates the ongoing need to conduct research into possible effects any food ingredient may have, including colors. 

However, the assertions made in the recent Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) assessment linking synthetic colors with possible negative health or behavior effects are based on insufficient scientific evidence 

Colors are safely used in a wide variety of consumer products, are among the most widely studied food ingredients, and are subject to strict global regulatory requirements. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and international regulatory bodies have all concluded that synthetic dyes are safe for children and no study has offered compelling evidence that these colors cause adverse behaviors.  

Any risk management actions such as a warning label would be scientifically unfounded and unnecessary. US regulations already require that every color be clearly listed on the label by name.  A warning statement based on inconclusive science would not provide meaningful impact to Californians but would mislead consumers and undermine consumer confidence in a safe food supply. Parents of children who may be sensitive to food ingredients, including colors, can avoid such foods in consultation with their doctor based on existing ingredient declarations and labeling requirements.

Background 

OEHHA has published a final risk assessment after being tasked to conduct “a risk assessment of the potential impacts of synthetic food dyes on children, particularly for neurobehavioral and other neurologic effects.  IACM thoroughly reviewed the draft risk assessment and provided extensive feedback during the public comment period that ended November 12, 2020. 

While OEHHA concludes that effects exist for all FD&C colors, the studies evaluated in the OEHHA risk assessment do not support a relationship between exposure to any food dyes and hyperactivity or neurologic effects in children. Additionally, OEHHA inappropriately treats all synthetic colors similarly when each have different chemical attributes and effects.   

After reviewing studies that suggest associations between exposure to FD&C colors and adverse behavior in children, the FDA, Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have all concluded that current evidence does not establish a causal relationship, nor does it warrant additional risk managementMost recently in October 2019, the FDA similarly concluded that there remains insufficient evidence to establish a causal link between synthetic color intake and adverse behavioral outcomes.