Controversial food dyes in U.S. to be labeled in Europe, not here

American food products containing potentially harmful dyes will now be forced to carry warning labels when sold in the European Union -- a precaution not required for American consumers, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).

The 27-member European Union (EU) recently mandated that most foods containing artificial food dyes must bear warning labels declaring that the food "may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children." It's unclear exactly how many food products will now be required to carry the warning label, says the CSPI, since Europeans have traditionally used far less artificial dye than Americans. The British government asked companies to remove most artificial dyes in December 2009.

The CSPI hopes the new EU labeling rule catches the attention of officials at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which it says has not shown interest in protecting American consumers from the dyes.

Because the FDA hasn't required U.S. food manufacturers to switch to safer natural colorings, the CSPI says, many American companies sell artificially dyed food in the United States but not in Europe. For example, the topping in McDonald's Strawberry Sundae sold in the United States contains Red 40, while in the United Kingdom, the topping's color comes from strawberries.