The Color Diet

Some foods these days, especially those marketed to kids, are so brightly colored that they look like they're from a horror flick. Red fruit roll-ups are like the color of fake blood, and bright blue Kool-Aid drinks remind us of lights on an invading UFO. When the colors of the food you eat don't look like those found in nature, should you worry?

Food Coloring
In 1976, the FDA announced that the red dye amaranth was a carcinogen. Suddenly, shoppers everywhere were running from all things red. And the manufacturers jumped on board, too. The makers of m&m's made a big to-do and even replaced the red candies with orange.

But every good horror film has a sequel, and so does the frightening tale of food coloring. Today, food manufacturers no longer use amaranth -- but they do use Red 40 as well as Yellow 5, Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Orange B, Red 3 and Yellow 6.

And here's the scary part: Recent British studies have linked these artificial food colorings to behavioral disorders in children. That's right: The increasing number of children diagnosed with ADD, ADHD and other disorders may be, in part, a result of our children's artificially colored diet.

The UK and parts of Europe responded immediately to these studies and have begun phasing out these artificial food colorings. And once again, the food makers have jumped on the bandwagon -- but only when forced. Kraft and Mars have removed these dangerous dyes in foods sold to the UK, but apparently, American customers aren't screaming loudly enough. The very same products sold in the good old USA still contain these harmful food colorings. It's enough to give you nightmares!

food dye Reality Check

Despite the evidence that color-enhanced foods are dangerous for our kids, the FDA refuses to ban the colorings from our foods. Even worse: Food manufacturers are using these colorful chemicals five times more than they were 30 years ago.

The FDA insists that Americans want brightly colored foods, but what we really want is to protect our children. So if the government won't help us eliminate these harmful additives from our diets, we have to take matters into our own hands.

Shopper-In-Control Guidelines

Here's what you need to know to keep yourself and your family safe.

1.  Avoid these food dyes at all costs:

  • Red 3
  • Red 40
  • Yellow 5
  • Yellow 6.
  • Blue 1
  • Blue 2
  • Green 3
  • Orange B

2.  Some manufacturers are sneaky about listing ingredients under unusual names.  Learn these aliases for food colorings:

  • Allura Red AC (aka Red 40)
  • Erythrosine (aka Red 3)
  • Indigotine (aka Blue 2)
  • Tartrazine (aka Yellow 5)

3.  Sometimes, "lakes" are listed as ingredients. This is also harmful food coloring -- in its water-insoluble form.

4.  You can find foods that are naturally but colorfully enhanced. These additives offer a safer color boost:

  • Beet juice
  • Annatto (plant derived)
  • Turmeric (rich in antioxidants!)

5. You expect to find color enhancers in the usual junk food (candies, ice cream, cakes etc.).  But you'll find them in "healthier" foods such as:

  • Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Juice
  • Vitamin water

the Bottom line: artificial colors are dangerous

Artificial food dyes are dangerous -- end of story. Read labels and avoid these harmful dyes at all costs. You'll have calmer kids and sweet dreams once again.


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Comments on "The scary truth about food colorings"

JC January 17, 2013 | 3:47 PM

I was just wondering where you get your facts from?

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Kenn October 27, 2011 | 8:06 AM

I have been researching this stuff for years and it's a crime that our FDA does nothing to protect us from GM foods, toxic sludge used as food colorings etc. These dangerous screwballs are openly promoting all kinds of health problems and cancer and they should be given the death penalty for this. America is fast becoming a very dangerous place to live health-wise! I have read an article at Mercola that states that fluid analyzed from the umbilical cord of babies contains 280 toxic chemicals!!!What kind of madness is this. I'll tell you something else as well. The chief of the Dwamish Indian Tribe told then President Franklin Pierce(1855)that if white man "continues to contaminate his bed he would one day suffocate in his own waste". It was kind of prophetic don't you think? Cause here we are today with out babies now born TOXIC. This has never been a problem in world history up to now. I am more convinced day after day from studying this stuff that what the Bible teaches about human nature is true. God gave us clean air, water and food but modern man with his evil nature pollutes everything with his burning lusts. These poisonous loons will soon be looking for hole in the ground to crawl into to escape the madness they have created!

Lauren March 17, 2010 | 10:34 AM

I always knew there was something unnatural about food dye... Nowhere in nature does the color Blue #2 exist.

Kristina Marquez November 23, 2008 | 3:00 AM

I just started reading up on this topic and places like Trader Joes and Whole Foods stand clear of selling anything with these dyes in them!!

Jane Hersey November 07, 2008 | 10:19 PM

Me again...not sure why, but the "dot - org" keeps getting bumped off of the Feingold web site address. ??

Jane Hersey November 07, 2008 | 10:17 PM

My apologies...I did not include the entire web site for the Feingold Association of the US. It should read http://www.feingold.

Jane Hersey November 07, 2008 | 10:15 PM

Thank you so much for alerting readers to the dangers of food dyes. Most of the dyes used in the US begin in petroleum refineries in China...yes, they are made from petroleum, just like gasoline! For more than 30 years the nonprofit Feingold Association has researched brand name products to identify which ones are free of the worst of the additives. The good news is that nearly every type of food is available without the dyes. In fact, some companies make two different versions of nearly the same product (Cheetos with and without synthetic dyes, Jelly Belly jelly beans with petroleum-based or with natural dyes). Check out the web site http://www.feingold for more information about candies that are natural and delicious. And as far as natural things being affordable, many of them are far cheaper than their synthetic counterparts. Ghirardelli chocolate (which offer many natural choices) cost a fraction of what Godiva chocolates (with fake vanilla) command. I have bought natural candies at dollar stores and Big Lots; of course you have to know what to look for. But once you understand the basics, it's really quite simple to provide your family with yummy, healthy food at lower prices.

Nancy Weiss September 17, 2008 | 10:23 AM

This is really scary stuff -- especially since artificial coloring seems to be in everything every kid wants. It's really tough (for them) when your kids are the only ones at the lunch table without neon blue fruit leather in their lunch boxes. I wish there were more affordable and healthy alternatives to this kind of unsafe junk. Thanks for the details.

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