January 8, 2015
TO: JPA Technical Affairs Committee
FROM: Patricia Faison
RE: JPA Letter to Clinical Pediatrics - Artificial Food Colors in Beverages
We wanted you to be aware of JPA’s efforts to address research conducted by Purdue University and published in Clinical Pediatrics in February 2014. The study, “Amounts of Artificial Food Colors in Commonly Consumed Beverages and Potential Behavioral Implications for Consumption in Children,” aims to quantify the amounts of artificial food colors (e.g., Yellow #5, Red #40, Blue #1) in beverages consumed by children and adolescents. The researchers analyzed 108 beverages that declared artificial food color as an ingredient, including fruit juice drinks and punches, carbonated soft drinks, sports drinks and energy drinks. In part, the results of the study showed forty-seven fruit flavored drinks contained from 0.2 milligrams (mg) to 52.3 mg of artificial food colors per 8-ounce serving. The study’s Abstract and Conclusions are highlighted below. The study did not list all of the beverages analyzed in the study. A copy of the study may be obtained by contacting me.
Some of the juice drinks analyzed in the study contained real fruit juice and as such, the color profile was due to natural ingredients and artificial color. However, the researchers failed to differentiate the natural color from artificial color, which resulted in elevated levels of artificial color reported in the study. Over the course of several months, JPA staff corresponded with the researchers requesting that a letter be submitted to Clinical Pediatrics advising of the errors in the study and requesting that the study be removed from the journal if it was not corrected.
JPA staff also submitted a letter to the editor of Clinical Pediatrics noting the study was flawed. The letter was recently published in the journal and is available here. The International Association of Color Manufacturers (IACM) also submitted a letter to the journal expressing concern regarding the method used for this study and a similar study also conducted by Purdue researchers.
The study misleads consumers about the levels of artificial colors in some juice drinks. As the voice of the juice industry, we believe it is important to address such issues, as appropriate. We are aware that the researchers further analyzed some of the juice drink samples using another method but the levels of artificial color were still elevated.
Artificial food colors (AFCs) are widely used to color foods and beverages. The amount of AFCs the Food and Drug Administration has certified over the years has increased more than 5-fold since 1950 (12 mg/capita/day) to 2012 (68 mg/capita/day). In the past 38 years, there have been studies of adverse behavioral reactions such as hyperactivity in children to double-blind challenges with AFCs. Studies that used 50 mg or more of AFCs as the challenge showed a greater negative effect on more children than those which used less. The study reported here is the first to quantify the amounts of AFCs in foods (specifically in beverages) commonly consumed by children in the United States. Consumption data for all foods would be helpful in the design of more challenge studies. The data summarized here should help clinicians advise parents about AFCs and beverage consumption.
Most sweetened and artificially sweetened carbonated beverages, fruit drinks and punches, sports drinks, and energy drinks are dyed with either caramel color or AFCs in widely varying amounts. Many of these beverages are consumed daily by children in the United States. Estimating average intake of AFCs in the total diet would greatly benefit the design of challenge studies to test the effects of AFCs on behavior.
Please do not hesitate to contact me with questions or comments.