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Organic foods offer an alternative

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Organic foods offer alternative to foods containing food dyes, pesticides linked to raising children’s risk of ADHD

FDA advisory committee meets this week to weigh scientific evidence around food dyes

Contact: Barbara Haumann (802-275-3820; bhaumann@ota.com)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 29, 2011)—The Organic Trade Association (OTA) encourages consumers who wish to avoid exposing their children to pesticides and synthetic food dyes linked to possible increased risk of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) to choose organic foods when they shop.

“Organic food production and processing represent the only system that uses certification and inspection to verify that synthetic food dyes and chemicals are not used,” said Christine Bushway, OTA’s Executive Director and CEO. “Those seeking to minimize their exposure to these chemicals can look for the USDA Organic label wherever they buy food.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) Food Advisory Committee meets this week to review whether there is a possible association between synthetic food dyes and children’s risk of ADHD. Prompting the review are results from a 2007 study conducted by the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom, a 2008 petition from the Center for Science in the Public Interest asking FDA to ban the nine certified color additives currently allowed in foods sold in the United States that were cited in the Southampton findings, and action by the European Union in July 2010 requiring warning labels on the foods containing the color additives in question.

The U.S. President’s Cancer Panel Report in May 2010 had exhorted consumers to choose food grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers, antibiotics, and growth hormones to help decrease their exposure to environmental chemicals that can increase their risk of contracting cancer. This was followed by a study published in Pediatrics that concluded exposure to organophosphate pesticides at levels common among U.S. children may contribute to the prevalence of ADHD in these children.

“Studies have increasingly shown the importance of minimizing young children’s exposure to even low levels of chemical pesticides,” said Bushway. Both the use of organophosphates and synthetic food dyes are prohibited in organic production.

In 2010, the Center for Science in the Public Interest had issued a report, “Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks,” citing health concerns posed by the nine currently approved dyes used on conventionally produced foods. These included allergic reactions, hyperactivity and even cancer.

During its meeting March 30-31, the Food Advisory Committee will consider relevant data on the issue and advise FDA as to what action, if any, is warranted to ensure consumer safety.