Amounts of artificial food colors in commonly consumed beverages and potential behavioral implications for consumption in children

Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2014 Feb;53(2):133-40. doi: 10.1177/0009922813502849. Epub 2013 Sep 13.


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.

Keywords: Allura Red; FD&C artificial food colors; artificial food dyes; attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder; childhood behavior problems; hyperactivity; sleep; tartrazine.

MeSH terms

  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / chemically induced
  • Beverages / analysis*
  • Child
  • Food Coloring Agents / adverse effects
  • Food Coloring Agents / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Spectrophotometry
  • United States


  • Food Coloring Agents