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Every Color of the Rainbow: Food Coloring and their Health Risks

Posted Oct 04 2011 12:17pm

Food ColoringI have fond memories of coloring our Easter eggs as a kid. My mom and I would use the food coloring in our cupboard once a year for this very special occasion. Otherwise, the food coloring just sat there, unused in the dark closet. Mom may have known better than even she realized:

In the past I’ve written quite a bit about ingredients and additives worth avoiding in food products . Among them, you’ll find artificial colors, or in other forms, food coloring or food dyes. Beyond the fact that most are made synthetically from coal-tar derivatives and are suspected of being toxic or carcinogenic, claims about these chemical compounds should give anyone reason for avoidance. For instance, some of these colorful compounds are said to contain up to ten parts per million of lead and/or arsenic, and many have been linked to allergic reactions, fatigue, ADD/ADHD , headaches, asthma, and even skin rashes, and finally, some artificial colors can contribute to visual and learning disorders…even nerve damage.

Although these claims are enough reason to avoid artificial colors all together, here are some details about each color:

Blue #1 Baked goods, candy and Soft DrinksBlue #2 (E133)
Pet Food, Beverages and CandyCitrus Red #1 Sprayed on oranges to make them look ripeCitrus Red #2 Skins of some Florida OrangesGreen #3 Candy and BeveragesRed #3
Canned Cherry Pie Filling, Maraschino Cherries, Baked Goods and Ice CreamRed #40 (E124)
Soda, Candy, Gelatin Desserts, Pastry, Pet Food and SausageYellow #5
Gelatin Desserts, Candy, Pet Food and Baked GoodsYellow #6
American Cheese, Macaroni and Cheese, Beverages, Sausage, Baked Goods, Candy and Gelatin
Color Where They’re Found Health Risks

I’m always a proponent of eating whole foods, because whole foods are what they are. They don’t contain any hidden “junk” that can be detrimental to your health. If you want color in your diet, go for organic veggies and fruit and skip the packaged foods.

Have you ever experience issues as a result of consumption of food dyes? Have your children shown exacerbated hyperactivity from consuming food with artificial colors?


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