Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Say 'Aaah' | BEFORE YOU BITE

Artificial Coloring Has Black Marks Against It

March 19, 2001|Phil Lempert

Question: My 2-year-old loves those cute little chewy fruit snacks (made by Farley's and Brach's). They are made of fruit juice and have vitamins in them, but they contain artificial colors. My little guy wants these snacks every day. How safe are artificial colors for toddlers? Are there any natural alternatives that don't cost a fortune? Thanks for any input you can give.

--ALLISON HAMPOSN

Answer: Most artificial colorings today are synthetic and are designed as substitutes for the natural and fresh colors of foods. Studies have linked artificial coloring with hyperactivity and allergies in children and also have found a connection with cancer in rats.

As a result, the Food and Drug Administration has banned some artificial colors from use in foods: red dyes Nos. 1, 2, 4 and 32; yellow dyes Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4; violet dye No. 1; and orange dyes No. 1 and 2. One of my biggest concerns about food colorings is that the FDA does not require manufacturers to list the specific colors used in the product. An exception is yellow dye No. 5, due to its link to allergies. Typically, dyes are listed generally as "artificial colors."

Look for snacks and candies that use only natural colors, such as carotene, caramel, beet red, saffron, tumeric, and those from vegetable and fruit juices.

*

Q: Do vitamin sprays really work? I've seen them on the shelves at natural food stores and have been afraid to use them. They are more expensive than vitamins in tablet form. When I asked the store clerk about the sprays, she said they were just as good as tablets. Are they?

--BOB PARSONS

A: As vitamins have become more popular, so have the methods to dispense them--whether in sprays or shampoo. The FDA says some vitamins cannot be absorbed through the mouth or mucus glands. Also, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamins and minerals is typically more than can be delivered through a spray. To save money and get the best absorption, stick to the tablets and capsules.

*

Phil Lempert hosts a syndicated radio show and is the food correspondent for NBC's "Today" show. He welcomes questions about healthful food shopping but regrets that he cannot respond to every query. He can be reached at plempert@aol.com. or Before You Bite, Los Angeles Times' Health section, 202 W. First St., Los Angeles, CA 90012.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|