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Are Food Dyes Bad For You?

April 5, 2016

Macaroni and cheese, soda, margarine, even pickles all contain food dyes. The dyes manipulate how we perceive food; presentation is key for our minds. If something looks good, it must taste good. Aside from the unwanted carbs or saturated fats that might come with some foods that contain dye, how else might we be harming our bodies?

Approximately 2 to 7 percent of children and less than 1 percent of adults are affected by food dye intolerance. Symptoms can range from headaches and asthma to chest discomfort and emotional outbursts. In its e-book Food Dyes: a Rainbow of Risks, the Center for Science and Public Interest (CSPI) released the following research results on the three most widely used food dyes.

Red No. 40:

  • Acceleration in immune tumors in mice
  • Hyperactivity in children
  • No nutritional value

Yellow No. 5:

  • Hyperactivity in some people
  • Might be carcinogenic
  • No nutritional value

Yellow No. 6:

  • Causes adrenal tumors in mice
  • Possibility of leading to organ damage, cancer, birth defects and allergic reactions as well as hypersensitivity and hyperactivity in children.

The CSPI advises against using these color additives in food.

The FDA reassures consumers that any color additives in foods are put through a rigorous approval process to assure their safety. The FDA specifies how much of an additive should be used, in which foods it should be used and how it should be labeled. There has been no conclusive evidence that attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or cancers are linked to color additives, according to the FDA. They point out that a small number of people might be allergic to certain colors and as a result list those colors on nutrition labels.

While the FDA insists its procedures adequately protect the public from any harmful additives, further research from outside sources has argued otherwise for many years. The best possible solution would be to avoid color additives because they have no health benefit, but we know that’s not always the easiest or cheapest route. Start to wean yourself from ingesting artificial colors and start integrating more organic foods. You could also make your own food coloring for special occasions. You should especially avoid these food dyes if you think you might have an intolerance.

Always read food labels to know what you are putting in your body. Consult your doctor if you have questions about food intolerance or dietary needs.

Scary Fast Food Statistics