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Authors

  1. Clemens, Roger DrPH
  2. Pressman, Peter MD, MS, FACN

Abstract

Food coloring additives are widely utilized, have important functions, and are generally poorly understood in terms of their chemistry, health impact, and regulation. The following review summarizes which coloring additives are required for certification by the Food and Drug Administration and which are exempt from certification. The chemical structure of coloring agents is described, and the distinction is made between the 2 principal forms of agents: dyes and lakes. The extensive and still controversial and important history of the alleged association between artificial food colors and childhood behavioral abnormalities is critically reviewed along with the epidemiological and neuroscience components of the discussion. Finally, the regulation of food coloring additives is discussed. Apart from an updated narrative on the color of nutrition, this topic serves as an example of the importance of a rigorous and critical review of a scientific literature in order to get at "the truth."