Avoid dyes used in treats that play tricks on kids
As a child, on a night of serious trick-or-treating, I never cared for those “sensible” houses whose owners handed out erasers, rulers or nickels. It’s Halloween, for goodness sake, and some candy was the optimal demand of choice.
As a parent, I, too, turned a blind eye to healthy eating on Halloween, stocking up on mini Snickers bars or packets of M&M’s. I allowed my boys a good share of their Halloween loot, excusing the indulgence as a once-a-year folly.
Even as a mother who normally valued nutritional snacks and a balanced diet of fresh fruits and veggies, I would make the exception for this special night of treats. I didn’t want to be a spoiler and always felt a little indulgence in the way of candy and other treats wouldn’t harm either of my sons.
The evidence today counters my thinking and suggests that the dyes used in some candy are linked to serious behavioral problems. In fact, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has petitioned the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to ban these dyes altogether, calling these dyes the “secret shame” of the food industry.
Dr. Jim Stevenson, a professor at the University of Southampton and the lead researcher of a British study on artificial food dyes, has concluded that these dyes may not only cause hyperactivity and attention disorders but may deleteriously affect children’s IQ levels as much as gasoline!
This is nothing new to parents of children with disorders ranging from autism to ADHD. They have long-claimed that preservatives worsen the symptoms and exacerbate the condition. CPSI suggests the purpose of these dyes is to increase the appeal of low-nutrition products to children. According to the CPSI, Americans consume twice as much food dye as they did 50 years ago.
Amazingly, due to a large push in Great Britain, food manufacturers have removed artificial dyes from their foods. Mars uses only natural colorings in its Starburst and Skittles candy and McDonald’s has removed synthetic dyes from its strawberry milk shakes; the color for its strawberry sundaes is derived from strawberries, but in the States, it comes from Red Dye # 40!
Although the dyes are listed on the labels of food products in America, the FDA does not engage independent testing of artificial dyes but leaves it to food manufacturers to do testing. Not surprisingly, the food industry remains skeptical of any linkage between synthetic dyes and behavioral problems.
Indeed, a Columbia University study on the linkage between hyperactivity and food dyes found that domestic production of artificial dyes had quadrupled between 1995 and 1998. The number of American children diagnosed with Attention Deficit and hyperactivity disorders has also increased exponentially.
I’m not sure I’d leave it to the candy manufacturers to restrict potentially harmful food additives before making a decision about their impact on our kids. It’s been said that parents can achieve the results of reducing hyperactivity in their kids by cutting out artificial dyes from the diets of their children.
To be cautious, take a look at the fine print on the candy wrappers. If items such as Yellow #40, Red # 40 or Blue #2 are listed, avoid giving them to children. You will be side-stepping potential danger associated with these artificial dyes.
This Halloween, you may wish to think twice before handing out candy with artificial dyes in them. You also may wish to scrutinize your kids’ haul of goodies and engage in some negotiation over what your children can consume.
You may be telling yourself, but it’s only Halloween — a once-a-year extravagance — so what’s the harm? Fair enough and even dentists understand this holiday puts a strain on normal dental hygiene practices. But with a little creativity, you don’t have to take all the fun — or candy — out of Halloween.
Just try to exercise some prudence and a little restraint by being aware of the risks these chemical additives have. With a little planning, you can still make your little goblins enjoy their special treats without the real scare of dangerous dyes lurking in their goodies.
Metro Parent offers more suggestions for a safe, additive free Halloween on its Web site, www.metroparent.com.
Taken From: Detnews