The controversy of food additives ADHD has been around for years. Food additives are nothing new, in fact the history of food additives, preservatives and colorings goes back not just centuries but thousands of years. Man learned that salt cured (preserved) things. Drying and smoking also preserved things. Salt and other spices were a big item in Asia and the Middle East Trade. Sugar was also known to be used in large quantifies to preserve things. The food additives ADHD link controversy did not occur until the latter part of the 1900's.
Today the FDA has established stringent assessment and approval guidelines before a new additive can be used in food. The FSIS (Food Safety and Inspection Service) of the USDA shares responsibility with the FDA for our meat, poultry, and eggs. An additive can be used for flavor, preserving, appeal, preparing, consistency, and freshness for example. An additive is never approved for life, and sometimes can be removed from approval. This has not always been the case, in fact two-three hundred years ago it was not needed. These safety precautions go well beyond protection against the food additives ADHD concerns.
Many families grew their own food produce and even raised their own animals for dairy and meat and did not have to worry about food additives ADHD Concerns or other health concerns caused by additives. Food that was available in town was freshly picked or slaughtered. While there were risks of spoiled food, because of the short distances required to bring things to market, this was not a big concern. This may be a bit of an over-generalization but things were a bit simpler then.
As many Americans left farming and moved to the cities more and more of our food supply began to pass through manufacturing processing and food additives were discovered to enhance the food flavor or keep it fresher longer. Sometimes suppliers were dishonest at worse, or simply did not know what to add, or if it was toxic and how to keep the food supply safe for transportation to various cities. In addition, there began to emerge patent medicines, and hucksters who touted their "Elixir" as the cure all for nearly everything. The food additives ADHD and links to other side effects began mostly innocently.
Not having the systems to test all compounds, sometimes additives were used to mask bad tasting or even spoiled compounds, products or food that had never been tested as safe. At one time it was found that small amounts of arsenic were being used as a "preservative". This of course was not good and had to be stopped. In the late 1800's states began to pass laws to govern this, but found them hard to enforce.
The first attempt to pass federal legislation came in 1906 with the passage of the Federal Food and Drug Act. It stated that it was illegal to sell misbranded or adulterated foods or drugs in interstate commerce. It also listed a number of chemicals that were illegal to add to foods, such as borax, and formaldehyde. While this law was difficult to enforce and carried little penalty, it provided a framework and language that consumers could apply to what they purchased, and allowed for manufacturers to begin to differentiate themselves as being a quality company. On the one hand you might think "Why we would need to state the obvious". On the other hand, in the history of mankind there have been those whose slight of hand or lack of scruples have been well documented.
Much advancement had been made in the food and science industries, including advancements in medicine. This act was revised and renamed: the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. Notable addition to the act was a requirement that all additives had to be truthfully labeled.
For the first time this amendment provided specific regulations covering food additives. This amendment for the first time spelled out guidelines required before a new additive could be used in food, and that the individual manufacturer must provide required safety data before it could be approved to be consumed. As part of the approval process the FDA would also specify the types of foods it may be used in and how it may be used safely.
By this time a large amount of time and and history of safe use had accumulated on many substances. As a result a list of those substances that had not had any reports of ill effects emerged and were called "GRAS" - Generally Recognized as Safe. Any of these substances can be removed or disapproved at any time based upon ongoing monitoring.
This amendment brought all colors, natural and artificial under the FD&C Act. It stated that colors may not be used to deceive customers, conceal blemishes or inferiorities in food products. All colors desired to be used in food, drug or cosmetic applications must be approved by the FDA and appropriately labeled. The Delaney Clause was added which prohibits approval of any additive if that additive is found to induce cancer when ingested by people or animals. The appropriate use of sugar, flavors and other additives has been used for years to enhance our food and beverage appetites. Recall that the term ADHD did not come into existence until the 1960's. It was about this same time that the food additives ADHD link controversy emerged.
Nearly all the concern about the food additives ADHD link has been speculation, some studies, and a lot of anecdotal stories of food coloring or dyes and its potential link to ADHD. The shortest and best answer to this is that food colorings now approved for use in the United States are not considered toxins. There is a small percent of persons who may be intolerant to these, as well as to any food or food additive which may appears to make ADHD symptoms worsen. In some of these it may be the only reason for the symptoms. We have devoted several pages to causes effects of ADHD including one whole page on food coloring link to ADHD for your review.
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USDA Food Additives Fact Sheets These sheets include meat and poultry additives, plus allergies and food safety.
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