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October’s 31 Days of Real Food-Day 28

by Olivia Furlow

Day 28- Artificial Food Dyes


The list above is the currently approved list by the FDA

The following FD&C color additives are either no longer authorized or restricted for use. The FDA once thought these seven food dyes were “safe” but have since changed their minds: Green 1, Green 2, Red 1, Red 2, Red 3 (still used in food, but no longer in cosmetics or external drugs), Red 4, and Violet 1. There are a total of 91 different dyes that were once approved and are now no longer authorized or restricted for use.

I found this statement on the FDA website about artificial food dyes, “Exposure to food and food components, including AFC [artificial food colors] and preservatives, may be associated with behavioral changes, not necessarily related to hyperactivity, in certain susceptible children with ADHD and other problem behaviors, and possibly in susceptible children from the general population.” Synthetic food dyes have been shown to cause an increase in hyperactivity in children as well as a negative impact on their ability to learn.”Artificial food dyes (in combination with a common preservative) could make even children with no known behavioral problems hyperactive and inattentive.” “The science shows that kids’ behavior improves when these artificial colorings are removed from their diets and worsens when they’re added to the their diets.” and “While not all children seem to be sensitive to these chemicals, it’s hard to justify their continued use in foods—especially those foods heavily marketed to young children.”


Artificial Dyes Found in Surprising Places

Below are some examples of food products that have artificial food dyes. They are not just found in neon colored beverages and brightly colored candies. All of the following contain artificial dyes even including brown cereal, whole-wheat pizza crust, and white icing!













Artificial food dye, synthetic food dye, food coloring, FD&C Red No. 40, or Tartrazine (a.k.a. Yellow No. 5)… whatever name it’s listed under, it is all pretty much the same stuff. These dyes are derived from petroleum! The same petroleum that fuels our vehicles! It is used in gasoline, diesel fuel, asphalt and tar. They have been linked to long-term health problems such as cancer. “The three most widely used dyes, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6, are contaminated with known carcinogens, says CSPI. Another dye, Red 3, has been acknowledged for years by the Food and Drug Administration to be a carcinogen, yet is still in the food supply.”

FYI – According to Wikipedia, “A carcinogen is any substance … that is an agent directly involved in causing cancer.” !!! “Artificial food dyes are made from petroleum and approved for use by the FDA to enhance the color of processed foods.”

Yep…that’s what artificial food dye is made from and unfortunately the 15 million pounds of food dye used in the U.S. per year. The crazy thing is these companies tell us right there on the ingredient label that artificial color and sometimes artificial flavoring has been added and most consumers don’t seem to be fazed by it. I truly believe that if consumers stop purchasing artificially dyed and flavored foods we can make an impact. If enough of us speak up the big food companies will listen to consumer demand. It is a possibility because that’s exactly what’s happened in other countries outside of the U.S. We are apparently just behind the curve on this one.

In the UK artificial dyes are allowed for use, but require a warning label stating, “May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.” So food companies in the UK have mostly switched to natural dyes in order to avoid slapping a warning label on their packages. So M&Ms aren’t so brightly colored in some countries outside of the U.S. Many Grocery Manufacturers Association members (like Pepsi, Kraft and General Mills) “have switched to natural colorings in their products in the U.K., where warning labels are required, but they’re not doing that here for the most part. That’s because no one’s making them do it, and switching would cost a lot of money.” “This is why if you eat a Nutri-Grain strawberry cereal bar in the United States, it will contain Red 40, Yellow 6 and Blue 1. But that same bar in the UK contains only the natural colorings beetroot red, annatto and paprika extract. In fact, the UK branches of Wal-Mart, Kraft, Coca-Cola and Mars have removed artificial colors, sodium benzoate and aspartame from their product lines as a result of consumer demand and government recommendations. In the United States, however, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to allow these toxic ingredients in countless popular foods, including those marketed directly to children.”

Artificial dyes add absolutely no value to the foods we are eating and without a doubt have serious health risks. They are also contributing to the obesity epidemic by attracting children, as well as adults to highly processed food instead of fresh whole foods. “Beyond the behavioral problems and cancer risks, the greatest hazard that dyes pose for children may also be the most obvious: They draw kids away from nutritious foods and toward brightly colored processed products that are high in calories but low in nutrients, such as fruit-flavored drinks and snack foods. Those types of foods are a major force in America’s obesity epidemic.”


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