Seven Deadly Synthetic Food Dyes

Updated on September 20, 2017

Kraft Mac'n'Cheese-- it's what's for dinner

Ever wonder what makes Kraft Mac'n'cheese bright orange? If you're eating it in America or Canada, Mac'n'Cheese is made such an attractive "hyper" color by adding Yellow 5 and Yellow 6. However, if you are in Europe or Australia, Mac'n'Cheese is a bland neutral color. This is because the majority of synthetic food dyes used in processed foods are derived from Petroleum and coal. It really doesn't take a genius to figure out that those probably aren't intended to be eaten!

So Why Do We Add Color?

Because we learn to associate color with flavor when we are children. If I say, what flavor is purple, most children would reply "grape." Purple is grape-flavored. Food companies add dye to make their product more appealing and attractive to consumers.

And consumers buy into it.

One study tested children with Mac'n'cheese, one group with the "normal" orange and another with green food dye. The study found that the children who were given the green dye ate less and described the food to be not as good as the orange. This is because biologically, we are wired to recognize color and shape to decide and remember which foods are good to eat.

The Seven Deadly Dyes

The FDA has approved seven dyes for use in food products. These primary colors can be mixed together to create secondary colors, such as our lovely "grape purple." This means you are getting Red 40 and Blue 2 in your jolly rancher, doubling your intake of dye and your risks.

  1. Blue 1 "Brilliant blue" is derived from coal tar and is not digestable by the body, which can lead to green poop. Blue 1 has been linked to ADHD, allergies, and asthma. Several European countries have banned Blue 1.
  2. Blue 2 "Indigotine" is the same dye used to make blue jeans blue. Blue 2 is a synthetic dye based off the chemical make-up of the natural dye indigo, which is an ancient, plant-based dye. Blue 2 has been linked to ADHD and food allergies.
  3. Green 3 "Fast Green FCF" is banned in the EU and has been linked to testicular and bladder cancers and tumors in lab animals and causes irritation of the gastrointestinal tract. Green 3 is not a common dye, but it is used frequently in candy.
  4. Red 40 "Allura red" was introduced as a replacement for "amaranth," which is on the FDA's banned list. Red 40 is derived from either coal tar or petroluem. Red 40 has been linked to cancers, ADHD, extreme allergies, asthma, and migraines. Several European countries have banned Red 40. Red 40 is used in pet food, sausage, frosting, chips, and soda pop.
  5. Red 3 "Erythrosine" has been partially banned by the FDA for known health risks, specifically thyroid cancer. It has also been linked to other cancers and is currently under review for a full ban. Red 3 has mostly been replaced with Red 40 but is still used in things like fruit roll ups and chewing gum.
  6. Yellow 5 "Tartazine" is derived from coal tar and is the number one allergy-causing dye. Allergies to Yellow 5 can range from mild indigestion to severe depression. It is estimated that 360,000 Americans have bad reactions to ingesting Yellow 5. Yellow 5 is a common dye and is in candy, cereal, and many other processed foods. It has been banned in several European countries.
  7. Yellow 6 "Sunset Yellow" is derived from petroluem. Yellow 6 has been linked to ADHD, food allergies (aspirin allergies), and cancer. Yellow 6 is banned in several European countries and is being phased out of the UK.

Approved Dyes in Foods

  •  FD&C Blue No. 1 – Brilliant Blue FCF, E133 (blue shade)
  •  FD&C Blue No. 2 – Indigotine, E132 (dark blue shade)
  •  FD&C Green No. 3 – Fast Green FCF, E143 (turquoise shade)
  • FD&C Red No. 40 – Allura Red AC, E129 (red shade)
  •  FD&C Red No. 3 – Erythrosine, E127 (pink shade, commonly used in glacé cherries) [4]
  • FD&C Yellow No. 5 – Tartrazine, E102 (yellow shade)
  • FD&C Yellow No. 6 – Sunset Yellow FCF, E110 (orange shade)

Rainbow Frosting Makes the Party!

Adding color is festive and such small amounts can't possibly hurt your health. After all, the FDA approved it, so it must be safe!

In the 1950s, the government introduced Color Additives Amendment to the FD&C Act, which laid the responsibility of the food dye safety at the feet of food manufactors. Recently, however, consumer safety groups have been pressuring the FDA to do individual, independent tests for obvious reasons.

Unfortunately, the FDA is overworked and underfunded. The FDA tends to shove things through their approval process and it can take years or even decades to revoke the decision. However, only 7 dyes are approved by the FDA currently. This is against the 10 dyes that have been delisted since 1938 because science found them to be unsafe and harmful when ingested.  And before that there were 80 approved dyes in 1906. And now there is only 7 approved dyes. Out of 80.

More and more studies are finding that dyes are linked the cancers, noteable colon, brain, and testicular cancer. Other studies have linked dyes to ADHD in children. Not to mention dyes can cause severe allergic reactions, including migraines, digestive problems, and a blocked airways.

While dyes make food more appealing, occasionally tricking customers into thinking the product has greater nutrition or superior value, they do not really add anything healthy or helpful to foods.

The Grassroots (Literally and Figuratively) Solution

The good news is that we don't have to have boring Mac'n'Cheese. There are lots of natural, non-toxic dyes to enhance our food visually. Beetroot, annatto and paprika extract can be used in place of Red 40. Blueberry juice concentrate, carrot juice, paprika, grape skin extract, beet juice, purple sweet potato, corn, and red cabbage are other alternatives to synthetic food dyes from petrolem and coal tar.

Or, why have food dyes at all? Several companies, including Kraft, are starting to produce dye-less versions of their products. They still taste the same, but without the added toxins of synthetic food dyes. The more consumers buy of these dye-less products, the more the companies will make and the safer dinner will be.

As a consumer, let your money talk. Avoid products with food dyes as much as possible. Or, write companies to praise their dye-less versions and encourage them to provide more alternative products. Sign petitions and be informed about dyes and the FDA. Create a demand for safer food.

Until the FDA bans dyes (Red 3 will be next to go) or companies take consumer health seriously, avoid processed foods and excessive dyes as much as possible. You should avoid processed foods anyway, since most of it is junk food and not good for you.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2010 eveliens

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Soso 

      13 months ago

      The world can become a better place, but we all have too do our part:)

    • zaton profile image

      Zaton-Taran 

      3 years ago from California

      This hub has definitely made me more aware of food dyes. I cannot stand that they've even started adding it to "natural" foods such as fruits and vegetables. What the heck is the FDA's job, anyway?!

      https://hubpages.com/food/Energy-Foods-to-Fight-Fa...

    • profile image

      Typeswems 

      5 years ago

      Hey guys just wanted to tell you all about my new blog, its all about how to make money fast, so if you have 2 minuites have a quick read and tell me what you think. Web Site

    • profile image

      Futamarka 

      5 years ago

      Следующая большая работа - сюита "Век № 20", практически моноопера для певца Беркута, была специально сочинена под его вокальные данные - большого отклика не получила. Хотя музыкальный материал, изобилующий интересными темами, включал оркестровые эпизоды, неожиданные соло на фаготе бас-гитариста Гуткина, игру на саксофоне вокалиста и виртуозную игру клавишника Л. Макаревича по профессиональному уровню ставили "Автограф" вне досягаемости. Но на фоне энергичного "выброса" в атмосферу музыкальной жизни "социального рока", в котором неумелое обращение с музыкальными инструментами с лихвой компенсировалось остротой и злободневностью текстов, звезда «Автографа» потускнела.

    • profile image

      Varitarnile 

      5 years ago

      We utilized to receive at the top of lifetime but these days We have piled up any amount of resistance.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      I am throwing out a tub of Seaweed Salad I bought at Costco...never opened. But it has Blue 1 and Yellow 5 and I won't put it in my body. Major bummer!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 

      6 years ago from the short journey

      Thanks so much for this overview of food dyes and the concerns surrounding them. It's important for people to have an idea of the problems and easy to read information on how to avoid them.

    • profile image

      Anonymous 

      7 years ago

      I think that Blue Dye #1 also causes digestive disorders or causes Irritable Bowel Syndrome to act up... any time I eat blue/purple frosting or drink grape KoolAid not only do I have green poop but it's usually not exactly solid, if you catch my meaning.

    • profile image

      skit 

      8 years ago

      Good information, this is stuff the generall public should know. And this is enough to let the public know how disgusting our food really is.

    • profile image

      eveliens 

      8 years ago

      I'm hoping that eventually all food dyes like that will be banned. In the meantime we can only stop buying/eating them. And I hope your son will heed your advice! Good luck.

    • profile image

      annoyomous 

      8 years ago

      Wish my son would heed my advice for his child! I am printing this out in hopes it will elaborate what I've been telling them for the childs allergies.

    • eveliens profile imageAUTHOR

      eveliens 

      8 years ago from SK

      Thank you :) I hope people see this hub because it's very important to know what we're putting in our bodies.

    • bayoulady profile image

      bayoulady 

      8 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA

      Eve, this hub is rated up and useful! outstanding research and useful.

    • eveliens profile imageAUTHOR

      eveliens 

      8 years ago from SK

      I had a vague notion about food dyes, but once I started researching for this hub, I was just shocked (and slightly grossed out). There are so many chemicals we put into processed foods, and then we wonder why our bodies have abnormalities (cancer and diabetes).

      I just hope that an educated consumer is the tipping point to going back to more natural and safe foods for the public.

      Thank you so much for the comment and the rate up! I truly appreciate it :)

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 

      8 years ago

      Thanks for the practical info about food coloring. I will keep this as a handy reference. There is so much we need to be aware about in our food supply from the dyes to msg, aparatame, and the rbst hormones in the milk supply just to name a few things. Making people aware and as you said letting our money talk is the only way we can make healthier changes. I am with you in helping to spread the word. Rated up

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, caloriebee.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://caloriebee.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)