Additives have been used to color food for hundreds of years and governments have attempted to regulate the usage nearly as long. Today’s rhetoric about food dyes is much tamer and so is the regulation. As a result the exposure to additives is rising. In the past 60 years the amount of artificial dye used in food in the United States has increased fivefold!!!
The first evidence that artificial food dyes having a “downside” came in 1970s when pediatric Ben Feingold asserted that hyperactive children who eliminated artificial flavors and colors form their diets showed a remarkable improvement in behavior.
Since then there have been many studies proving this true, the latest in 2007 with the landmark Southampton Study. As a result of this study, Europe required warning labels to be placed on all products containing additives. Europe also operates on the law of “precautionary principle”, limiting exposure of harm from possible other side effects of food additives. Our FDA, however, operates from an “innocent until proven guilty” stand point. Many experts cried foul in 2011 against the FDA when the agency acknowledged that dyes may have negative side effects on some kids, but since it didn’t find absolute proof that artificial dyes cause hyperactivity, ruled that food companies do not have to use warning labels. Personally, I would feel better if we operated like King Edward I did in the 1200s and decree that any baker who colored his bread white would be dragged through the streets with the fraudulent loaf hanging around his neck!
So what are these dyes and in what foods do we find them?
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Blue No. 2 – Found in candy, cereal and ice cream
The next 7 Dyes require warning labels in Europe:
Citrus Red No. 2 – Allowed for use only in coloring the skins of oranges
Green No. 3 – Found in canned peas, mint jelly, sauces and mixes for baked goods
Orange B. – Allowed for use only in frankfurter and sausage casings.
Red No. 3 – Found in popsicles, cake decorating gels, candy and chewing gum
Red No. 40 – Big list! Found in soft drinks, sports drinks, cocktail mixers, fruit snacks, yogurt, cereals, lasagna, jam, candy, hot dogs, beef jerky, salad dressings, pizza and chips.
Yellow No. 5 – Found in soft drinks, ice cream, puddings, jell-o, cake mixes, sports drinks, chips, jam, mustard, boxed rice mixes, noodles.
Yellow No. 6 – Found in orange soda, jam, lemon curd, soup mixes, chips, ice cream and noodles.
Then there is Carmel Coloring… People around the world consume more caramel coloring than any other food-coloring ingredient. There are four types, two of which are created by using ammonia. The coloring used in sodas is made by reacting ammonium and sulfite compound with sugars…making the toxic 4-MEI, shown to cause cancer in mice and rats! Some soda companies have reduced the levels of
4-MEI. Chose wisely, in my opinion, limited you risk and avoid soda all together.
While it may be hard to avoid all artificial food colorings, consumption of these additives needs to be a conscious decision for yourself and your family.
Life is meant to be lived in moderation!
If you have not trained yourself to read food labels, you need to start. There is much to learn while you start this process and you will also be eliminating harmful products from your weekly dietsJ Because the only purpose of artificial food dyes is cosmetic, removing them should be a no-brainer. You are not changing the taste of the food. And while our government continues to ponder what seems to be a riddle, you need to be your own advocate starting today.
Listen to Dr. Lauren every Tuesday on WCHE1520AM at 3:00pm on The Wellness 411 Show. Covering all your hot healthcare topics like the harmful effects of food dyes. Tune in tomorrow, June 10th to talk about fresh produce as Dr. Lauren hosts Lisa O’Neill from the Growing Roots Partners.