Amounts of artificial food dyes and added sugars in foods and sweets commonly consumed by children

Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2015 Apr;54(4):309-21. doi: 10.1177/0009922814530803. Epub 2014 Apr 24.


Artificial food colors (AFCs) are used to color many beverages, foods, and sweets in the United States and throughout the world. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) limits the AFCs allowed in the diet to 9 different colors. The FDA certifies each batch of manufactured AFCs to guarantee purity and safety. The amount certified has risen from 12 mg/capita/d in 1950 to 62 mg/capita/d in 2010. Previously, we reported the amounts of AFCs in commonly consumed beverages. In this article, the amounts of AFCs in commonly consumed foods and sweets are reported. In addition, the amount of sugars in each product is included. Amounts of AFCs reported here along with the beverage data show that many children could be consuming far more dyes than previously thought. Clinical guidance is given to help caregivers avoid AFCs and reduce the amount of sugars in children's diets.

Keywords: Allura Red; artificial food colors; attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); candy; childhood behavioral problems; high-fructose corn syrup; hyperactivity; sugars; tartrazine.

MeSH terms

  • Candy / statistics & numerical data
  • Dietary Sucrose / analysis*
  • Food / statistics & numerical data
  • Food Analysis / statistics & numerical data*
  • Food Coloring Agents / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Spectrophotometry
  • United States
  • United States Food and Drug Administration


  • Dietary Sucrose
  • Food Coloring Agents