Temptation abounds during the holidays, but sugar and saturated fat are not the only reason to be wary of holiday treats. Even natural-looking colors, like brown and white, can contain hidden synthetic dyes that carry risks, from cancer to hyperactivity in children. Unnecessary synthetic dyes trigger adverse behavior in some children.

Thinking about using some marshmallows for treats over the holidays? Read the label before buying, some of them have blue # 1 dye. What about chocolate, isn’t it naturally colored? For some reason Nesquik thought it needed Blue #1, Red #40, and Yellow #6 in it’s hot chocolate?

Synthetic food dyes cause behavioral risks in sensitive children. They’ve been around for decades and are found in everything from pudding to potato chips to soft drinks. Their use has gone up fivefold in the past 50 years, which means people are consuming a lot of junk foods.

But recent studies linking food coloring to hyperactivity in kids is causing some experts to call on the FDA to ban foods containing them — or at least require a warning label.

Some of the studies are difficult or imperfect. But there is this body of literature that does suggest that food colorings are not as benign as people have been led to believe, according to Andrew Adesman, developmental and behavioral pediatrics expert.

Not surprisingly, there are countries that have banned or significantly regulated a number of artificial food dyes that are still widely available in the US — a fact that definitely makes one raise an eyebrow or two. If you’d like to err on the side of caution and avoid these specific food dyes, here are three of the most worrisome dyes you might not want your children eating.

FD&C Yellow #6

In the UK, it’s called Sunset Yellow FCF or E110. It’s petroleum-derived, which does not inspire much confidence.

FD&C Red 40

This is a hugely popular red dye, and is found in tons of US food products. You may also see it listed as Allura Red, Food Red 17. Interestingly, it was banned in countries including Denmark, Belgium, France, Switzerland and Sweden at one time, but since the EU allows it in food products; food manufacturers now remove it on a voluntary basis.

FD&C Yellow 5

When you see the generic ingredient “color,” this artificial azo dye is typically what is being described. You can also find it listed on labels as Tartrazine, CI 19149, Acid Yellow 23, Food Yellow 4, and E102. Of all the azo based food dyes, this is the one that some UK studies have determined causes the most intolerant and allergic reactions.

In general, for your health and the health of your children be cautious of any ingredient label that states, “color added.”


December 18, 2017


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