It is illegal to use the carcinogenic color additive Red 3 in cosmetics, such as lipsticks or blush, or externally applied drugs. However, the discredited chemist lurks in common varieties of sweet corn, nerds, peeps, fish, sweet cakesand hundreds of sweets, cakes, and other foods, including dozens of seasonal items. halloween items. That’s why the Center for Science in the Public Interest and 23 other leading organizations and scientists are today urging the Food and Drug Administration to formally remove Red 3 from the list of approved color additives in foods, dietary supplements and medications. oral.
Since the early 1980s, the FDA had evidence that Red 3 caused cancer in laboratory animals. The National Toxicology Program considered the evidence “convincing.” As a result, in 1990, the agency eliminated certain “provisionally listed” uses of the chemical, namely cosmetics and externally applied drugs. In 1990, the FDA also said it would “take steps” to ban its use in foods, ingested drugs, and supplements. But those steps were never taken.
“Halloween has never been the healthiest holiday, but few parents would believe that the FDA allows the use of a dye it recognizes as a carcinogen for use as a common ingredient in candy,” said CSPI consultant Lisa Y. Lefferts. “Even fewer would believe that the FDA bans this carcinogen in makeup but allows it in food.”
Despite the government’s conclusion that Red 3 causes cancer, food companies continue to use it widely. a search for Food Scores, a database maintained by the Environmental Working Group, generated 2,876 branded food products containing Red 3, including hundreds of foods made by the nation’s largest food companies. candy company by Brach just sell over 100 different candies with the dye. In addition to appearing in Pez and Peeps, Red 3 is used in a few varieties of Fruit by Betty Crocker’s foot, Dubble Bubble Gum, Entenmann’s little bitesY Hostess Ding Dongs. Albertson’s, Kroger, Meijer’s, Target and Walmart use Red 3 in some of their private label products. And even some non-sweet foods that you’d think wouldn’t need artificial colors contain Red 3, like Betty Crocker’s Loaded Mashed Potatoes. And sometimes Red 3 can act to simulate the presence of a desirable ingredient: while Yellow Rice with Saffron from Vigo in fact it has a famous and expensive saffron, it gets at least part of its color from Red 3. Even PediaSure Kids Grow & Gain Strawberry Ready-to-Drink Shake contains Red 3, but no strawberries.
Long-term animal feeding studies show that Red 3 causes adenomas and carcinomas of the thyroid gland. When a substance is shown to cause cancer in animals, it is presumed to cause cancer in humans. Amendments to the nation’s food laws passed in 1958 and 1960 included a provision called the Delaney Clause that prohibits the approval of any food and color additive if it is shown to cause cancer in people or animals. For that reason, the petition filed today by CSPI and other groups and scientists says the FDA is required by law to remove Red 3 from the list.
“It is outrageous that the Food and Drug Administration has known since the 1980s that Red 3 has the potential to cause cancer, yet still allows it to be used in the foods we eat,” said Melanie Benesh, EWG vice president of government affairs. . which is one of the groups petitioning the FDA today. “This is yet another blatant example of how the FDA has failed consumers when it comes to food safety.”
“If the data was strong enough to ban Red 3 from cosmetics and external drugs 30 years ago, it surely will be strong enough to ban it from foods, oral drugs and dietary supplements today,” said CSPI President Dr. Dr Peter Lurie.
CSPI’s advice to parents is to avoid not just Red 3, but all numbered dyes, such as Yellow 5 and Red 40. In addition to the cancer risk posed by Red 3, concerns have been raised about adverse impacts on children’s behavior. In 2008, CSPI applied to the FDA to remove them from the food supply as well. Since then, The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment has confirmed those dyes cause neurobehavioral problems in some children.
Despite the risks, some prescription drugs still contain Red 3. go away, billed as the “#1 Prescribed Brand Name ADHD Medication,” contains it. That’s somewhat ironic, according to CSPI, since behavioral problems associated with food dyes are often described as similar to symptoms associated with ADHD.
“The FDA has had more than 30 years to ban the carcinogen Red 3, an artificial food dye used in many products, including the candy people will be passing out this Halloween,” said Tom Neltner of the Environmental Defense Funds. “Is the agency red in the face? No problem. With this color additive petition, we are formally demanding that the agency do its job. The law gives the agency 180 days to make a final decision. Hopefully when kids go trick-or-treating next year, the FDA has done its part to make the holidays safer for everyone.”
In addition to CSPI, EDF, EWG and Lefferts, the petition was presented by Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, Center for Environmental Health, Center for Food Safety, Chef Ann Foundation, Children’s Advocacy Institute, Consumer Federation of America, Consumer Reports, Defend our Health, Feingold Association, Food & Water Watch, Healthy Babies Bright Futures , Life Time Foundation, Moms Rising, Prevention Institute, Public Citizen, Public Health Institute, Public Interest Research Group, and Real Food for Kids. Individual scientists signing the petition include Linda S. Birnbaum, former director of both the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program; and Boston College pediatrician and epidemiologist Philip J. Landrigan, who directs both the Program for Global Public Health and the Common Good and the Global Observatory for Planetary Health.
The food and drug industries used more than 200,000 pounds of Red 3 in 2021 alone.
“The main purpose of food coloring is generally to make junk food look more appealing, especially to children, or to trick their parents into thinking a food contains a healthy fruit like strawberries,” Lurie said. “When the purpose is purely cosmetic, why is any level of risk acceptable?”