When Will The FDA Wake Up And Realize This Is A National Health Crisis? Guest Post By Abby Egan

I am a mom of two usually adorable children and two rescue dogs.  I’m a novice gardener, avid reader and music lover. I work full time in social services (though my hope is that I can someday work part-time to give me more time for my family).  I try to educate everyone I meet about the connection between food additives and the growing number of kids being medicated for bi-polar and ADHD.

In the winter of 2011, I was complaining about my son’s behavior to a co-worker.  Always a “high maintenance” child, he would throw marathon tantrums at the slightest injustice, have trouble sleeping , etc.  She told me to try getting rid of “red dye” because it had helped her grandson.  So we did so, and saw some improvement. 

Then we went to a birthday party, and Sean had a meltdown, and needed to be removed from the group.  I told him “See, you shouldn’t have had the cake – it has red dye.”  Another mom overheard me and said, “You are right…but you have to treat it like a food allergy and eliminate all dyes 100% of the time.” She told me to google the Feingold diet. 

Wow, it was tough to have to read every label! Then in March 2011, I saw that the FDA was going to be considering the use of dyes in food.  Suddenly it became my life’s mission to learn all I could.  I read about other kids with identical behaviors, and learned that in Europe, artificially-colored food carries a warning label. 

We saw great improvement over the summer, no more time outs needed – and he started sleeping through the night for the first time in his five years of life!  He still would have rages and sometimes would be seemingly bouncing off the walls.  His father pointed out, “There must be something in **(our favorite snack-cheese cracker in a red box).  I checked the label…”TBHQ”.  For some reason, all this time I had ignored the recommendation to avoid the preservatives, and so I began to do more research. 

It turns out that TBHQ, BHT and BHA are all petroleum based chemicals – just like food dyes.  Sean was also reacting to a topical ointment he had been prescribed for rash – and the #1 ingredient in it was PETROLEUM. He is now 100% free of any and all petroleum based chemicals – in his diet, in his bath, in his sunscreen, and in his boo-boo cream. 

What a change!  We had a peaceful family vacation this past weekend. I marvel at how far we have come in the past year.  Even the slightest exposure (red painted on teeth at the dentist, TBHQ crackers at Grandma’s, pixie stick on a field trip, etc.), and he pays for it dearly for DAYS. 

It makes me so angry that our goverment isn’t doing anything about this.  My next mission:  Get my Master’s in Public Health and do something about this!  As the Human Services Director for a small town, I see parents in my office daily, who have kids with “ADD”.  I always tell them about our experience. 

It is atrocious that we live in a society turning a blind eye to this epidemic of diagnosed kids being treated with medication.  Of course there are some children who truly have a disorder that requires medication.  My hope is that we can reduce that number, and give parents and kids alike some much needed peace of mind by getting the word out about how harmful these food additives are!

I’m grateful to Abby for sharing her story, and for spreading the word in her work.  Please post any questions for Abby in a comment below.  If you’d like to share your story, send an e-mail to admin[at]diefooddye[dot]com.


5 Responses to “When Will The FDA Wake Up And Realize This Is A National Health Crisis? Guest Post By Abby Egan”
  1. My story is almost just like yours! I am a nurse and I too want a masters in public Heath/ nutrition so I can make some changes. Why aren’t our pediatricians on the band wagon yet? !!

    • Abby Egan says:

      Hi Brenda I am so happy to report that as of his last check up this week, his pediatrician is now on board, adding “petroleum based products and food coloring” to the allergies section of his chart. She comments that she now believes that the increase in all of these behavioral diagnosis is directly related to the way food is processed. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Jennifer Proctor says:

    Every time you post I feel like my “craziness” is validated. Long story short, I found your website after about two weeks without Red 40.  

    My five year old daughter Carson had always been hard to handle. I removed sugar from her diet when she was 18 months old but still have been apologizing for her inconsistent behavior ever since. We walk around on eggshells constantly.  A friend of a friend mentioned the red dye and one day after a meltdown with no sugar in sight I talked to my husband and we took the plunge to ditch the red from her diet.

    It wasn’t too long after that when I realized the yellow was just as bad….she and I came home from our mom and daughter night at Chick Fil A and it turned into crying mess (as many things do).  While she was screaming on her bed that “she had no idea why she is crying” and ” she just cant stop”, I started googling more articles and found the one about the free ice cream with the kids meals, particularly  interesting! Everyone one I found seemed to explain her behavior perfectly. The over reactions, freak outs, constant crying, stage five meltdowns, groaning, hitting, sometimes destructive chaos. Everything is the end of the world with her.  My husband has gotten pretty tired of me saying ” well she is 2, or 3,  now 5, isn’t that what all toddlers do”?  

    Apparently not. After numerous disastrous exits from birthday parties and even family vacations with extended family and quite frankly every special occasion or holiday, we probably will just stop going.

    Needless to say, we cleaned about all the dye we could find, reviewed all the labels at school and to the best of our ability,  prevent her from eating at places where we can’t check. Every summer camp destination, needed to be pre checked and since Memorial Day Weekend when I started this, things have changed. Now I had the ” brand new kid”. Her reactions to things were what I call normal and her behavior change was noticeable to others including her teachers.  

    We also realized that her bad habit of ” pulling her hair out”, was related to the dye.  A few months prior we took her to a child psychologist to try to understand why she was pulling her hair out and twisting it up into little knots.  It wasn’t until your recent post about the 12 signs your family has food coloring sensitivity that I put two and two together. We also realized that she had stopped pulling her hair out. 

    Unfortunately a few times lately, I have the “old” Carson. The tantrums, the uncontrollable crying, the walking on eggshells are back. I have checked all the food and there is no dye in sight. I can’t blame the occasional dye when she hasn’t had any. I guess my next plan is to research the Feingold Diet.   

    • Indie Mama says:

      Hi Jennifer, I can relate to leaving special events…Wanted to share that we notice that we also react to preservatives made with petroleum (just like dyes) – sodium benzoate, TBHQ, BHA, and BHT. Many kids and adults who are sensitive to dyes also react to synthetic preservatives. While travelling, we avoided dyes, yet I noted two reactions which I’ll write about this week. Maybe keep a food mood log for a couple of weeks to help spot patterns and links to certain additives. I am really glad that your girl is feeling like herself most of the time now. 🙂

  3. hbutterlfy27 says:

    My name is Heather and I am beyond happy that I have found this site!! My step-son is 7 and at age 4 1/2 his mother put him on ADHD medication. I wasn’t in the picture then and now he lives with me and my husband. I am receiving my degree in Biology and Psychology. My step-son’s behavior goes beyond his ADHD “symptoms”. I began noticing his really bad days were when he had his vitamins and if he had an excess of processed food. My husband had reactions to “boxed meals” and we cut those completely out of our diets. That has helped but now I am beginning to think my step-son has an allergy to food dyes. We are going to take baby steps and take out the reds, yellows and blues from the diet to see if that helps. He doesn’t get sugar very often as it is so that shouldn’t be too hard to take away. I am so grateful to find a place where it’s “safe” to talk openly about this and what we can do to help those we love!


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