Lifestyle & Human Interest

Mom Opens Up About How Food Dye Gave Son 'Jekyll and Hyde' Personality


Many people may not realize just how prevalent dyes have become in our foods and beverages. Further, most may not be aware of the potential health risks these dyes pose.

For one Johnston County, Illinois, mother, it has become a major concern that she is urging parents to be aware of, according to WTVD-TV.

Brandy Carlson’s son Garrett had an experience with food dyes that altered his mood and has become a real issue over time for his family.

When Garrett ate a hot dog at 18 months old, he had what Brandy called a “Jekyll and Hyde” moment.

“I used to describe it as a Jekyll and Hyde, because you have this excellent kid, and then he would talk to you like dirt,” Brandy explained.

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“He was mad at the world, and it would last an hour, go away come back,” she added.

Even eating just two M&M’s would set Garrett off, and now he can tell when it’s happening.

“It’s been pretty hard over the past few years,” Garrett told WTVD-TV. “I just feel really bad after and I’ll say like ‘I’m sorry’ 50 times.”

Doctors couldn’t figure out what was causing Garrett’s poor behavior for six long years.

They finally discovered that red #40 dye makes him lose all control of his emotions. Now 10 years old, Garrett still struggles with these additives in foods and beverages.

While food dyes such as yellow #5 and #6 and red #40 have been banned in Europe, they are still used in the U.S. in many foods and beverage products today.

“There is no benefit to the dye and there’s no telling how many kids are out there, and adults out there, that are suffering in this way and they don’t even know why,” Brandy said.

Brandy is not alone in this fight. Lisa Lefferts, a senior scientist at the Center for Science in the Public Interest said that she has seen as many as 2,000 families with the same issue.

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While food producers such as Mars are working to eliminate these dyes from their products, it is still commonplace in many foods and beverages and will take years to complete the elimination process.

According to Lefferts, red and yellow food dyes are even in foods that you would least expect them to be in.

“They’re not only used in colorful foods like candy or brightly colored breakfast cereals, they also kind of sneak into foods you would never imagine, like pickles or salad dressing,” Lefferts explained. “Even white foods, brown food, and foods that you just wouldn’t think of as containing synthetic dyes.”

Lefferts said that more needs to be done by the FDA to eliminate these harmful dyes from foods and beverages just like Europe has done.

“It’s just so unnecessary it really does make me angry,” she said. “There’s just no reason why children should have to suffer these kinds of adverse reactions. Why families should have to spend years trying to track down the culprit for their child’s problems when we could just simply not be using these chemicals in our food.”

“I don’t understand why FDA doesn’t act on this evidence,” she added. “It needs to be acting more like the cop on the beat.”

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Dawn is a writer from Milwaukee who loves the art of crafting copy. She has experience in marketing and worked as editor-in-chief of a monthly B2B magazine where she honed her writing skills. No matter the topic or audience, she has a story to tell.
Dawn is a writer from Milwaukee who loves the art of crafting copy. She has previously worked in marketing and as as editor-in-chief of a monthly B2B magazine where she honed her writing skills. She enjoys the art of captivating readers and making them come back time and time again for more. No matter the topic or audience, she has a story to tell. Whether it’s an article, newsletter, news release or web content, she's done it.
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