The Food Revolution Begins At Home

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I was a huge fan of cereal as a kid. Captain Crunch, Golden Grahams, and Lucky Charms were among my favorites. Magically delicious is right. If I didn’t know any better—and I’m not claiming that I do—I would think those miniature, jewel-colored marshmallows had some kind of addictive quality to them. They were that irresistible.

As a parent, however, I’ve learned to resist. You don’t have to be a scientist—rocket or otherwise—to know that much of what’s marketed to kids as breakfast food these days has little chance of getting their day off to a good start. Unless of course you’re trying to give them a head start on the path to obesity, which is already an epidemic in this country.

What really burns my toast, is that the companies who make this crap for our kids get to obfuscate this fact by engaging in what I like to call “kidcoating” the issue: promoting healthy eating and lifestyles to kids, while serving up snacks and cereals that contribute to the obesity problem and may even cause ADHD.

According to a recent report by The Center for Science in the Public Interest entitled, “Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks,” in addition to containing too much sugar, which is bad enough, many of the cereals I grew up eating also contain harmful food dyes linked to hyperactivity in children and tumors in animal studies.

For instance, if I look up my own childhood favorite Lucky Charms in the Food & Food Coloring Database produced by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, I discover those irresistible charms were laced with the food colorings: B1 (Brilliant Blue), Y5 (Tartrazine), Y6 (Sunset Yellow), and R40 (Allura Red). Since these obscure designations meant nothing to me, I checked the CPSI report for answers.

Of Y6 the report states: “may be contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals and occasionally causes severe hypersensitivity reactions. Yellow 6 adds unnecessary risk to the food supply.”

Of R40, the report states it “may accelerate the appearance of immune-system tumors in mice….and might trigger hyperactivity in children. R40 should be excluded from foods unless and until new tests clearly demonstrate its safety.” 

Turns out those charms aren’t all that charming after all.

And as if that’s not scary enough, General Mills, the maker of Lucky Charms, makes two other cereals, Franken Berry and Boo Berry, which both contain B2,  a food dye associated with brain tumors in male rats and, in CPSI’s opinion, has no business being used in foods. And there, my friends, lies the rub.

Since the food business is big business, General Mills is, no doubt, pushing these products on unsuspecting kids and parents everywhere, just in time for the Halloween holiday.

Let’s send General Mills a clear message that parents aren’t going to be tricked by their attempts at kidcoating their image. Sign our letter to General Mills, asking them to remove harmful food dyes from products marketed to kids.

Crap in is crap out. Whether it begins life in a bowl is just geography.

Crossposted at safemilk.org

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