Campaign Pushes M&M's To Drop Artificial Dyes

  • October 31, 2013
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and a mother of two from Jamestown, N.Y., have launched a campaign to persuade Mars Inc. to remove artificial dyes from M&M's.

The nonprofit nutrition advocacy group has been pushing the Food and Drug Administration to ban artificial food dyes since 2008, citing studies that have linked the dyes to hyperactivity and other behavioral problems in some children.

The FDA has said that more research is needed, and that it will issue new findings about food dyes next year.

CSPI reports that Mars has phased most artificial food dyes out of the European version of M&M's, partly because of a European rule requiring warning labels on dyed foods, but American M&M's are still colored with Blue 1, Blue 2, Yellow 5 and 6 and Red 40.

CSPI has co-signed a petition on with Renee Shutters, a mother who says her 9-year-old's behavioral problems subsided after he was put on a diet free of artificial dyes. The petition asks Mars executives to replace the dyes now used in M&M's with natural coloring. As of Oct. 31, the petition is showing nearly 105,000 signers.

Shutters also made an appearance on the "Today" show on October 29 to tell her son's story and elicit support for the petition.

Further, CSPI is asking parents not to hand out M&M's, Skittles, Nerds or other candies that use artificial dyes on Halloween, in favor of handing out candies without such dyes, or healthy snacks. 

Numerous food products and candies use artificial dyes, but CSPI is making its case by focusing on M&M's, one of the country's best-selling candy brands. 

The Grocery Manufacturers Assocation issued a statement stressing that "the overwhelming majority of scientific evidence continues to confirm the safety of these artificial food colors," and that GMA member companies "ontinuously review and monitor all emerging science and scientific studies and incorporate these as warranted into our manufacturing practices to help ensure that we are always producing the safest possible product for our consumers.”

M&M's issued a statement saying that all the colors it uses comply with regulations and safety assessments and its own strict internal quality and safety requirements. The company said it continues to explore the use of natural colors in the U.S. and globally. It said that factors including allergy risks must be assessed in relation to plant- or animal-derived ingredients.

Mars also reported that the FDA has approved the company's petition for the use of Spirulina Extract as a naturally-sourced color additive for use in confectionery and chewing gum. "While we do not currently use Spirulina Extract, approval of this petition is one step towards providing us the option to produce confectionery products made with this naturally sourced color," Mars said.  

Their full statements can be read on Today's site.



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