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FDA Approved Food Coloring Dyes: What You Are Really Eating
What’s Wrong With Artificial Food Coloring?
When my son asked me why I don’t pack the yummy looking snacks his friends are eating in their lunches, I replied, “Honey, Mommy doesn’t want to poison you.” As dramatic of a reply as this may seem, it's my way of teaching him the truth about food choices. I further explained that many of those snack foods contain artificial dyes which are made from chemicals to make the foods look colorful and appealing.
I didn’t always have this rule against eating food dyes, and I admit we don’t follow it 100% of the time. My most interesting finding through this process has been the reaction of my kids, who, after being taught the facts are asking questions about their own food to make their own choices. It is never too late to implement a change for the good.
Copyright © 2015 Melis Ann
What is Artificial Food Coloring?
Artificial food coloring approved in the United States have the following labels FD&C Red 3, FD&C Red 40, FD&C Yellow 5, FD&C Yellow 6, FD&C Blue 1, FD&C Blue 2, and FD&C Green 3. These man-made chemicals are suspected of being toxic, poisonous and dangerous, especially to children. Artificial food dyes come from highly toxic sources, the majority of them derived from petroleum (petrochemicals and coal tar) and some are contaminated with compounds such as benzidine and 4-aminobiphenyl, known to be human carcinogens.
What’s Been Done? FDA and Other Countries on Food Dye
We can’t count on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to change. They have known the potential dangers of using synthetic dyes in food since they published a report in 1976. They have also refused to eliminate these poisons from our food despite the 2008 petition submitted by The Center for Science in the Public Interest. As the debate rages on, I am not going to wait around for a concensus.
Kudos to countries in Europe that took a stand against artificial food dyes. Even though the European Food Safety Authority did not feel the need to force a change, the European Parliament decided that even without concrete proof, the risk was considerable enough to warrant warning labels that chemical dyes may cause reactions in children. Many European food manufacturers opted to reformulate their products instead of having to use warning labels. Nutri-Grain bars are now available to European consumers without the artificial color additives. However, Nutri-Grain bars sold in the U.S. still contain those dangerous substances. A McDonald's strawberry sundae in Europe is colored with actual strawberries whereas the American version depends on Red #40 for it's colorful appearance.
It is up to consumers, especially parents, to make these choices for ourselves and our families. Since the FDA has not taken action against approving these kinds of chemicals for use in our food, it’s left to economics to sort it out. If we all start buying the better choices, which do exist out there, the companies that still mix poison into our foods will have to take a second look at why their products aren’t selling.
What’s the Harm in Eating Artificial Coloring?
Studies have linked ingestion of artificial food coloring to numerous diseases and disorders including multipe kinds of cancer, mutations, allergies, male sterility, and aggravation of ADHD symptoms. There is also a link to causing hyperactivity in children that are not diagnosed with ADD or ADHD. Other recent studies link exposure to artificial food dyes to behavioral problems and lower academic performance.
Public Health Research Group states that children’s exposure to food dyes has tripled since the mid 1980’s. Their study estimates that by the time a child is 12 years old, they may have already eaten 10 pounds of artificial food coloring. There is no way to compare our childhood or past generations exposure to what is occurring today. It’s unprecidented.
Children are the most vulnerable group due to their smaller size and rapid development as well as the fact that they are eating more of these foods than adults. Think colorful cereals, candies, and popular snacks including yogurt, boxed macaroni and cheese and even pickles! You will be surprised at just how many products contain these dyes once you start looking at the labels.
You may also be surprised to find out about dyes in vitamins and medicine.
Do-it-yourself: Where To Buy Natural and Organic Food Dye
Chocolate sprinkles for everyone!
What Are the Natural Choices for Food Coloring?
Today there are many foods that we can choose that contain naturally derived food dyes and many products that are produced without them altogether.
Some examples of natural food dyes include annatto, caramel coloring (made from caramelized sugar), betanin (beet extract), saffron, paprika, and elderberry.
Where Can I Buy Foods that Contain Natural or No Dyes?
Buying organic foods labeled USDA Organic will ensure you avoid anything artificial in your food. Note that foods (without the USDA Organic label) can still be labeled to “contain organic ingredients” and may still contain ingredients such as artificial food coloring, so be wary.
Organic foods aren’t the only way to go. There are many grocery stores with their own health conscious brands such as Whole Foods Market 365 brand and Wegman’s Food You Feel Good About brand. You know when you’re buying these, you are buying a product free of artificial ingredients at the same time getting a great value.
Finding Natural Foods - Just a Few Examples
- Whole Foods Market
Whole Foods Market is the world's largest retailer of natural and organic foods, with stores throughout North America and the United Kingdom.
- Hannaford Supermarket
Nature's Place is the store brand that is natural or organic.
Food You Feel Good About is the Wegman's brand of natural/organic foods.
- Trader Joe's
Find Trader Joe's stores near you.
- Stop & Shop
Nature's Promise is the natural store brand. Also carried at Tops Markets and Giant stores.
More Resources on Effects of Artificial Food Coloring
Reading material focusing on the link between diet and childhood disorders.
A detailed guide to preparing foods without artificial ingredients.
Related Articles To Read: Dyes and Toxins
- Most Toxic Vitamins and Medicine: Essential Vitamins and Minerals and Artificial Food Dye Dangers
Much like our food system, vitamins and medicine in the United States are laced with poisonous substances known as artificial dyes. Here's a practical plan for identifying which products to avoid and stop allowing these toxins into our bodies!
- Coffee: What Kind To Drink To Maximize Health Benefits and Reduce Toxins
Most of us coffee drinkers have heard the good news that coffee is beneficial to our health. It's important to know that not all coffee is created equal thus we may not be getting the benefit we think we are getting from it.
Note that this website portrays my opinion. I want to help others consider a new or different view. Any action taken based on these opinions is the responsibility of the reader.
Copyright © 2015 Melis Ann
Original content written by Melis Ann published only on HubPages at the following web address: http://melisann.hubpages.com/hub/FDA-Approved-Food-Coloring-What-You-Are-Really-Eating
Food Dye News
- FDA Probes Link Between Food Dyes, Kid's Behavior : NPR
The Food and Drug Administration to examine whether artificial food dyes cause hyperactivity in children. Recent studies have drawn this link, causing some experts to call on the FDA to ban the dyes.
- NRDC: Chemical Culprits: Food Dyes
NRDC: Overview of recent research into health issues posed by food dyes.
- The Color Of Controversy - Science News
Link between food dyes, childhood hyperactivity gets renewed attention.
Tell FDA to Ban Artificial Food Dyes
- Ban harmful petroleum based food coloring - The Petition Site
Tell FDA you don't approve of artificial food dyes by signing this petition.
No Poison, No Downside! Avoid Artificial Food Coloring
You can call me an alarmist, you can tell me the studies aren’t conclusive, you can tell me that you or your parents ate foods that were artificially colored and that nothing happened. But it's not going to change my opinion that feeding children a by-product of petroleum is anywhere near beneficial to them. It's logical to me that our bodies will function better without the overload of toxins. Minimizing artificial food dyes can only do us good.
Not only is the risk of eating artificial colors significant enough to me, but easy enough to avoid. Why not make that change? There’s no downside.
As a society, we really need to force the change from the bottom up so that further change can be enabled. Consumers drive the market and we don't need to wait for government to tell us what's safe or unsafe.