The FDA should rethink what ‘safe’ means

Congress established The Food and Drug Administration in 1906 when it passed the Pure Food and Drug Act. The purpose of the administration was to regulate the additives placed in food and to “prevent the manufacture, sale or transportation of adulterated or misbranded or poisonous or deleterious food, drugs, medications and liquors,” according to Weill Cornell Medicine. 

Over a century later, the FDA has made changes and additions to its amendments to ensure the safety of American consumers. However, in the last decade, key ingredients in foods that sit in household pantries and fridges have come to the attention of many consumers, specifically those concerned with leading healthy and clean lifestyles. 

Red Dye No. 3 is a common additive in many foods, yet it has stirred much debate in the public health world. According to Consumer Reports, consumers can find the controversial ingredient in beloved snacks like gummy candies, strawberry Nesquik products, instant rice or even the cherries in Dole fruit cups. 

Yet, with the component being so common, why has Red Dye No. 3 become a recent cause for concern?

Consumer Reports notes that Red Dye No. 3, officially referred to as erythrosine, is a synthetic dye that gives countless foods their red food coloring. According to Fox News, researchers have found that when they expose lab rats and other animals to the ingredient for a period of time, the petroleum-generated dye has been linked to thyroid cancer in tests. 

As a result, the FDA banned the use of Red Dye No. 3 in cosmetic products, yet it claims that the effects of the dye are harmless when consumed in various foods. 

The FDA has the mission of protecting the health and wellness of American consumers; however, it fails to consider the health risks the public faces when permitting such a precarious component in everyday foods. 

Research has proved erythrosine to have carcinogenic properties as well as other health repercussions. Southwestern Vermont Medical Center notes that children are the most at risk of the adverse effects of Red Dye No. 3, as it is not only known to cause physical health concerns, but behavioral ones as well. 

Even with consumers petitioning for the ban of Red Dye No. 3 and California’s recently passed bill banning the contentious dye in the manufacturing of food, the FDA has still refused to completely ban the use of the component.

As lawmakers fight for the health of the public and continue to push for the prohibition of erythrosine, American consumers can begin acting for themselves and taking charge of their health and the foods they consume. 

Apart from petitioning about the additives the FDA deems acceptable in foods and dietary supplements, consumers can educate themselves on the harmful dyes and flavor enhancers that are found in foods in the average household. 

More than that, parents should begin actively looking at the ingredient lists of foods that aren’t certified as organic, as these foods often contain preservatives that are harmful to the health of children. 

The FDA has an established protocol and security check system that has worked for decades. However, when ingredients such as Red Dye No. 3 have been largely restricted in countries such as the U.K. due to their cancer risks, it is then time for the FDA to reevaluate their procedures and raise their standards for the sake of the public’s health. 

Daniel is an opinion writer for the Liberty Champion. Follow her on X

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