Spooky Food for Halloween | Modern Manual Therapy Blog - Manual Therapy, Videos, Neurodynamics, Podcasts, Research Reviews

Spooky Food for Halloween

Spooky Food for Halloween - themanualtherapist.com

Spooky Food for Halloween

By Dr. Sean M. Wells, DPT, PT, OCS, CNPT, ATC/L, CSCS, NSCA-CPT, Cert-DN

As we approach Halloween and the trick-or-treaters hit the street, we as physical therapists (PTs) and scientists need to be aware of a common food additive that can cause cancer. I know you're probably thinking this is another article that's bashing processed foods, but you might be surprised to learn that this food additive is in a lot of our food products, not just candy. Today the Center for Science in Public Interest (CSPI), along with a list of food and children watchdog groups, filed a petition to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban Red. 3. 

This particular food dye, known for its unique red color, is used extensively in candies that are distributed on Halloween. Children consume a vast majority of this Halloween candy, which puts them at risk for cancer. Specifically, it has been known since the 1960s that Red 3 can cause cancer, particularly of the thyroid gland, in animals. The FDA acknowledged the connection between Red 3 and cancer risk in the 1990s, yet they still have done nothing about this. As the food industry continues to evolve, companies have begun to add Red 3 into many of our common products from mashed potatoes, juices, and even some of our medications.

The state of California has attempted legislation requiring labeling of products with Red 3 due to its neurocognitive effects. Specifically, research has shown that red three has interactions with some children that can promote attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ADHD. We've covered this in our third course, specialized nutrition for physical therapists, educating PTs on the fact that some children that have ADHD may have a sensitivity to many food dyes. Oddly enough, some of the common ADHD medications use Red 3 In the outer coating of their pills. Even more worrisome, is other food dyes, like Yellow 5, 6, and Red 40, have been linked with cancer – so Red 3 should not be the sole focus or concern for PTs and healthcare providers. 

In fact, in the European Union (EU), foods with certain synthetic dyes including Yellow 5, Yellow 6, and Red 40, must carry a warning label stating that the dyes: “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.” Many food manufacturers that sell foods in Europe have chosen to reformulate their products to eliminate those dyes and thus avoid the label. Obviously alternatives exist and food companies will make the change when required.

We, as physical therapists and particularly the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), need to align in a statement requesting the FDA to review food dyes to protect pediatric and adult patients from cancers and hyperactivity disorders. Several better, natural alternatives exist to dye foods and have been used in the EU. Companies have used beetroot for red colors, turmeric for yellow, and carrots for orange colors – why use toxic dyes? Ultimately, the FDA needs to hold these companies accountable and take action to end the use of food dyes so kids can enjoy Halloween without the toxins!

If you like what you see here then know there is more in our 3 board-approved continuing education courses on Nutrition specific for Physical Therapists. Enroll today in our new bundled course offering and save 20%, a value of $60!

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