Renee Shutters is a mom with a mission. She has teamed with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CPSI) on a change.org petition to M&M’s maker Mars, Inc., requesting the company remove artificial dye from the iconic candy. She noticed her 9-year-old son’s hyperactive behavior improved after she eliminated foods containing artificial dyes from his diet. Now, she wants Mars to use natural dyes in M&M’s.
It seems like a bit of a bold request—until the candy maker’s European formula is revealed. On the other side of the pond, Mars nixes the petroleum-based dyes it uses in the U.S. and replaces them with natural dyes. Otherwise, the European Union would require Mars to package Euro M&M’s with a label that warns the candy “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”
Aaron Bernstein, MD, MPH, pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital, thinks the petition may be on the right track. Available evidence suggests that artificial dyes carry the potential to increase hyperactivity in any child, says Bernstein.
But the focus on food coloring masks a far bigger problem, says Bernstein. “Kids (and their parents) are being bombarded with foods specifically intended to lure them in.” Nearly every store in the U.S. immerses consumers in a sea of cheap, unhealthy and supersized junk food, he continues. Candy marketing follows a seasonal cycle from Valentine’s Day to Halloween.
Every fall, the trick-or-treat ritual generates a massive candy crush; Americans purchase 600 million pounds of candy for Halloween. …