Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the non-profit Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington, said despite evidence linking food dyes to hyperactivity and other behavior problems in children, companies continue to use them in American product lines while substituting natural colorings in Britain.
"British candy has all the sugar of American candy, and it's certainly not health food," Jacobson said in a statement. "But as Halloween approaches, it's a shame that American kids trick-or-treat for candy dyed with discredited chemicals while British families have many of the same foods, minus the dyes."
U.S. Food and Drug Administration data shows Americans consume five times as much food dye as they did 30 years ago, Jacobson explained.
Two British studies found food dyes impair the behavior of many children. The British government pressured companies to switch to safer, natural colorings and the European Parliament approved a warning label for foods that still contain the dyes, Jacobson said.
In June CSPI urged the FDA to ban Red 40, Yellow 5 and six other synthetic dyes.