The Food and Drug Administration today banned many uses of Red Dye No. 3, saying studies had shown that very high doses of the color additive can cause cancer in laboratory animals.
The action prevents further use of the dye in some cosmetics, drugs and foods. But because the risk is considered small, the agency said consumers could continue to use existing supplies of products that already contain the dye.
This article is from the associated press print in the New York Times:
''The actual risk posed by Red No. 3 is extremely small,'' said Dr. Louis W. Sullivan, the Secretary of Health and Human Services. ''However, Federal law in this area is clear.'' ''There have been laboratory studies which showed that very high doses of Red No. 3, administered directly in the diet, caused cancer in rats,'' he said. ''In these circumstances, small as the risk is, we have no choice under the law but to end the provisional listing of this product.''
He said the F.D.A.'s action illustrates the rigidity of the law, which he said should be updated to reflect advances in scientific methods to assess risks.
The risk of getting cancer from Red No. 3 is no larger than 1 in 100,000 over a lifetime of consumption, the F.D.A. said. In comparison, the risk from natural disasters is 70 in 100,000 and from disasters like railroad accidents and air crashes, the risk is 6 in 100,000, the agency said.