OEHHA Draft Report on Synthetic Food Dyes

September 4, 2020

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has published a draft risk assessment for public input after being tasked by the California Legislature to conduct “a risk assessment of the potential impacts of synthetic food dyes on children, particularly for neurobehavioral and other neurologic effects” in 2018. IACM is thoroughly reviewing the draft risk assessment and will provide feedback during the public comment period ending October 13, 2020.

Colors are used in a wide variety of foods and beverages, are among the most widely studied food ingredients, and are subject to strict global regulatory requirements. IACM appreciates the ongoing need to conduct research into possible effects any food ingredient may have, including colors, but the assertions made in the draft report linking all FD&C colors with possible negative health or behavior effects are based on insufficient scientific evidence.

After reviewing studies that claim an association between FD&C colors and hyperactive behavior in children, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and internationally recognized regulatory bodies, including the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), have concluded that current evidence does not establish a causal relationship.

Further, each of these organizations have determined that these nine color additives are safe after evaluating them based on scientific evidence. In fact, the FDA has not taken any risk management actions because it determined doing so would not produce any significant health benefits. The studies evaluated in the OEHHA risk assessment do not indicate consistent or strong associations between any food dyes and hyperactivity or neurologic effects in children.

IACM, which represents both color manufacturers and consumer product companies that use color, understands that the safety of the food supply is of paramount importance to all consumers. The totality of scientific evidence continues to indicate that most children have no adverse effects when consuming foods containing color additives. The color industry will continue to evaluate emerging science and conduct the studies necessary to ensure that its products are safe for human use, including children and other sensitive subpopulations.

Media Contact: Anna Carver
[email protected]