Artificial Colors

Artificial Colors

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Artificial Colors

What Are artificial colors?

Artificial colors are usually derived from petroleum or crude oil. These dyes are chemicals that are put in many foods, especially foods marketed to children. These dyes are banned in many countries but are still allowed in the US, despite the terrible associated side effects! Red No. 3 was banned from cosmetics in 1990, yet the FDA allows Red #3 to be put into our foods.

There are 7 artificial colors approved for use in the US:

  • FD&C Blue No. 1 Brilliant Blue
  • FD&C Blue No. 2 Indigotine
  • FD&C Green No. 3 Fast Green
  • FD&C Red No. 3 Erythrosine
  • FD&C Red No. 40 Allura Red
  • FD&C Yellow No. 5 Tartrazine
  • FD&C Yellow No. 6 Sunset Yellow

How Is It Harmful?

Americans are eating more artificial colors than ever. The amount we consume on a daily basis has gone from 12 mg a day in the 1950s to 68 mg a day in 2012. That’s a 5-fold increase!

Artificial food colors have been linked to SEVERE health problems, including cancer. Most disturbing are the harmful effects on children. They include ADHD, mood swings, temper tantrums, bedwetting, lack of concentration, eczema, ear infections, and obsessive compulsive behavior.

Potential Health Impacts and Studies

The effect of artificial food colors on children’s behavior has been studied for close to 50 years. In 1973, Dr. Benjamin Feingold proposed that pediatric hyperactivity and learning problems were due to these colors along with other food additives. He even devised a diet that was free of these substances and wrote a best-selling book explaining it called Why Your Child Is Hyperactive. 

Since then, tons of studies have come out backing Dr. Feingold’s theory, yet still these colors are permitted by the FDA. One analysis from 2004 looked at 15 different studies that link artificial colors to worsening ADHD! Some studies have also shown how behavior disorders are reduced significantly by eliminating these colors.

In addition to behavior disruptions, artificial food colors have also been linked to negative impacts on nerve cell development and digestive enzymes as well as respiratory disorders. This review finds that dyes raise serious health concerns from carcinogenicity (cancer causing), genotoxicity (damaging DNA), and hypersensitivity.

Artificial Colors

Products With Artificial Colors

Artificial food colors are found in so many foods today. An easy way to spot them is to look for food that is bright or abnormally colored. Think V-8 juice and Lucky Charms cereal. But these colors also hide  in foods we wouldn’t expect, like medicine, pickles, salad dressing, popcorn, macaroni and cheese, ice cream, bread, vinegar, chewing gum, yogurt, salmon, and energy bars. Reference our table above to see some examples of foods with artificial colors.