June 18, 2014

Truth About Food Dyes In Your Food

Food dyes are so common in our foods these days, and it's important why you should be aware of the dangers upon consuming food and drinks that contain these coloring. 
By adding dyes and coloring to foods and a variety of products, companies can make them look more tasty or appealing to consumers. Companies have relied on this technique for ages in order to save money and sell more products. 

For centuries, we've used natural dye from natural ingredients to color food, clothing, and other products. Around the turn of the 20th century, scientists began formulating synthetic colors, derived from coal tar and other alternatives. This was done in order to reduce costs and avoid possible toxins in some of the natural compounds, such as mercury, copper or arsenic. 

However, the safety of this technique has come into question. These synthetic ingredients have been proven to have their own slew of problems. Some claim that these dyes are toxic – possibly toxic enough to cause cancer. While some dyes have been banned from use in the United States, seven dyes remain on the FDA’s approved list for use in the United States. These food dyes include Blue No. 1, Blue No. 2, Green No. 3, Red No. 3, Red No. 40, Yellow No. 5 and Yellow No. 6.

Two dyes that have come under recent attack are Yellow 5 and Yellow 6.

Other countries, like the UK, have required that food companies label products containing Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 with a warning that says: “May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.” Hence, some companies, like Kraft, have switched to using paprika and beta carotene in products like their mac and cheese (to preserve the yellow appearance) in those countries.


Americans are now eating five times as much food dye as we did in 1955. Food coloring, or color additive, is any dye, pigment or substance that imparts color when it is added to food or drink. Food coloring is also used in a variety of non-food applications including cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, home craft projects and medical devices.


A 2007 British study found that children who consumed a mixture of common synthetic dyes displayed hyperactive behavior within an hour of consumption.

  • Cochineal (E120), a red dye derived from the cochineal insect. (Not Vegan or vegetarian).
  • Red No. 3 – Erythrosine, E127 (is commonly used in glacĂ© cherries). Erythrosine is linked to thyroid tumors in rats.
  • Yellow No. 5 – Tartrazine, E102 (yellow shade). Tartrazine causes hives in less than 0.01% of those exposed to it.
  • Yellow 5 and yellow 6: The store-bought mac and cheese has dangerous dyes made from coal tar, which is also used to seal-coat and preserve products like shiny industrial floors as well as to kill bugs in lice shampoo.
  • Blue 1 and blue 2 are most commonly found in sports drinks: Similar to yellow 5 and 6, these blue dyes are a rainbow of health risks, including messing with the cognitive function of hyperactive kids, who performed poorly on tests that measured their ability to recall images, according to a U.S. study published in the journal Science.
  • The three most widely used culprits—Yellow 5, Yellow 6 and Red 40—contain compounds, including benzidine and 4-aminobiphenyl, that research has linked with cancer.
  • Additionally, some natural food colors can sometimes cause allergic reactions and anaphylactic shock in sensitive individuals.


Look for foods bearing the green-and-white USDA certified organic label, but be aware that foods labeled “made with organic ingredients” may still contain synthetic dyes.

Pick an organic brand, which means no added artificial colors, no dairy from cows treated with synthetic hormones, and no genetically modified ingredients. Even better, look for one that’s gluten- and wheat-free.

Water is your best friend during short workouts. For longer activities, you may want to supplement water intake with the new performance drink darling: natural coconut water. It’s a good source of electrolytes such as potassium and magnesium.


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