Beyond being extremely creepy, this orange cat helped to make the current regulatory regime for color additives in the United States. This orange cat was dyed with an excessive amount of FD&C Orange No. 1 — a previously permitted color additive dating back to the original Pure Food and Drug Act.
Excessive amounts of this dye was associated with making children sick during the Halloween of 1950 — abdominal pain and diarrhea. FDA investigated the matter and ultimately launched a new investigation into the colorant’s safety. In addition to animal studies, it included human volunteers who suffered diarrhea after eating 1 to 8 pieces of candy. 20 Fed. Reg. 8492, 8493 (November 16, 1955).
Ultimately FDA banned Orange No. 1, but before that could take affect this color was used to color popcorn cats, which then resulted in several reported sicknesses. These sicknesses along with related court cases ultimately led the Congress to pass the Color Additive Amendment of 1960.
So let’s hear it for popcorn cat on this National Popcorn Day.
- G. Edward Damon and Wallace F. Janssen, Additives for Eye Appeal, FDA Consumer (July/August 1973).