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Red dye # 40 not approved and now banned in Europe after more study links to depression, ADD, migraines, bad behavior

Updated on February 24, 2015
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Starlight is an evil genius whose neither evil nor dominating the world. But he's a good Dad who supports his family working from home.

This was my own experience...

Could Red 40 be behind your child's strange behavior?
Could Red 40 be behind your child's strange behavior?

Basics about FD&C Red #40 and possible behavioral effects

The purpose of this page is to introduce or support the concept that Red food dye CAN affect some people, especially a small percentage of children. These children are vulnerable to anything inflammatory or auto-immunity problems. There may be other unknown reasons they are susceptible to symptomatic behavioral effects the food dye seems to have.

The physiology and method of action on the brain are not well known. Red 40 is a dye banned throughout most of Europe. It is a petroleum-based substance and does not naturally occur. This dye along with other man-made food colorings have been shown in some studies to be psychoactive; the psychoactive effects seem to mainly affect children who are already somewhat hyperactive with short attention spans. Such children have reportedly thrown tantrums, experience sudden major depressive traits, and even talked of suicide after ingesting artificial food coloring, particularly red 40 or yellow 5. Parents and other close genetic relatives of some of these children experience less severe effects such as headaches from the very same artificial food dyes.

The substances have already been identified as harmful and banned in many European countries. Every large study with a statistically significant sampling examining the artificial food colors results in adverse behavior in some children following exposure to the chemicals. The good news is that the body expunges the dye and the behavior changes back to normal over a relatively short time of dye-free food and drink.

Why and What is the U.K. doing about Red 40

Many are blind to the problems that red dyes can cause to a small but significant population
Many are blind to the problems that red dyes can cause to a small but significant population
More study must be done to understand what can be neurotoxic to some and harmless to others
More study must be done to understand what can be neurotoxic to some and harmless to others
Chemical influences on the brain are not fully understood. Pernicious chemicals are produced by the food industry and have no real value except to trick the brain into spending money on their product.
Chemical influences on the brain are not fully understood. Pernicious chemicals are produced by the food industry and have no real value except to trick the brain into spending money on their product.
If it can be harmful, especially to children, exercising caution is the best avenue to take
If it can be harmful, especially to children, exercising caution is the best avenue to take
Red 40 is prevalent in almost every food imaginable. It's not just found in candy and it doesn't even have to appear as red as this.
Red 40 is prevalent in almost every food imaginable. It's not just found in candy and it doesn't even have to appear as red as this.

Why do they use the dye if it is considered dangerous and even banned in some places?

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, or CSPI, has been asking this question for some time, and even appeared before panels of federal food regulators in the USA arguing to ban the substances. The reasoning is logical, the petroleum-based chemical food dyes that are being used to artificially alter the appearance of processed food are not nutritionally beneficial to anyone, and dangerously adverse to a small percentage of people, particularly children with attention problems. Until it can be proven safe, it should not be used even if it is less expensive than natural alternatives.

Beet juice can replace Red 40 in most cases. Thankfully, some companies are switching away from petroleum-based chemical dyes in favor of safe, natural alternatives to enhance the color of food and drink. Unfortunately, in the USA and many other countries where Red 40 and Yellow 5 (along with other dyes) are permitted, many companies use the dyes. Regulators require producers to label the ingredients for the consumer, and that is a good thing. Red 40 can be found in many foods that aren't even red! It is currently used in many white cake frosting brands for sale in the USA! It is found in purple, green, white, pink, gray, brown, black, dark blue, and even dark yellow foods, usually candy marketed to children.

Update: February 2015

We seem to have diminished the reaction to the dye by increasing our vitamin D intake. I found out our levels were low, and the recommended range is already controversially low. So in combination we took D3 supplements, got some natural sunlight (helps a little in summer), and installed two models of home UVB lights. Now we have a healthy tan and have stopped worrying about which foods have red dyes, although we still avoid excessively colored junk. Red velvet cupcakes just seem gross and unappetizing.

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    Markey 5 years ago

    Thank you for the article. I wish more parents would eliminate these dyes from their homes. There are 7 of them and can usually be found on labels as FD&C _______. The go to place for info about how these additives (made from petroleum) affect people is the Feingold Assoc formed by parents in 1976. I'm a member. Its website is www.feingold.org