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FDA Approved Food Coloring Dyes: What You Are Really Eating

I'm a mother, environmental scientist & former Covid contact tracer who does research on a variety of health-related topics.

Artificial dyes are pervasive in candy. Children are especially vulnerable to adverse effects considering how much candy they eat and because of their small size.

Artificial dyes are pervasive in candy. Children are especially vulnerable to adverse effects considering how much candy they eat and because of their small size.

What’s Wrong With Artificial Food Coloring?

I want to teach my kids the truth about food choices. I explain that many of the snacks they see contain artificial dyes which are made from chemicals to make the foods look colorful and appealing.

I didn’t always have this rule against eating food dyes, and I admit we don’t follow it 100% of the time. My most interesting finding through this process has been the reaction of my kids, who, after being taught the facts are asking questions about their own food to make their own choices. It is never too late to implement a change for the good.

Copyright © 2018 Melis Ann

Red dye is commonly used and comes from petroleum.

Red dye is commonly used and comes from petroleum.

What is Artificial Food Coloring?

Artificial food coloring approved in the United States have the following labels FD&C Red 3, FD&C Red 40, FD&C Yellow 5, FD&C Yellow 6, FD&C Blue 1, FD&C Blue 2, and FD&C Green 3. These man-made chemicals are suspected of being toxic, poisonous and dangerous, especially to children. Artificial food dyes come from highly toxic sources, the majority of them derived from petroleum (petrochemicals and coal tar) and some are contaminated with compounds such as benzidine and 4-aminobiphenyl, known to be human carcinogens.

What’s Been Done? FDA and Other Countries on Food Dye

We can’t count on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to change. They have known the potential dangers of using synthetic dyes in food since they published a report in 1976. They have also refused to eliminate these poisons from our food despite the 2008 petition submitted by The Center for Science in the Public Interest. As the debate rages on, I am not going to wait around for a concensus.

Kudos to countries in Europe that took a stand against artificial food dyes. Even though the European Food Safety Authority did not feel the need to force a change, the European Parliament decided that even without concrete proof, the risk was considerable enough to warrant warning labels that chemical dyes may cause reactions in children. Many European food manufacturers opted to reformulate their products instead of having to use warning labels. Nutri-Grain bars are now available to European consumers without the artificial color additives. However, Nutri-Grain bars sold in the U.S. still contain those dangerous substances. A McDonald's strawberry sundae in Europe is colored with actual strawberries whereas the American version depends on Red #40 for it's colorful appearance.

It is up to consumers, especially parents, to make these choices for ourselves and our families. Since the FDA has not taken action against approving these kinds of chemicals for use in our food, it’s left to economics to sort it out. If we all start buying the better choices, which do exist out there, the companies that still mix poison into our foods will have to take a second look at why their products aren’t selling.

Artificial dyes are linked to cancer, ADHD, allergies and other symptoms.

Artificial dyes are linked to cancer, ADHD, allergies and other symptoms.

What’s the Harm in Eating Artificial Coloring?

Studies have linked ingestion of artificial food coloring to numerous diseases and disorders including multipe kinds of cancer, mutations, allergies, male sterility, and aggravation of ADHD symptoms. There is also a link to causing hyperactivity in children that are not diagnosed with ADD or ADHD. Other recent studies link exposure to artificial food dyes to behavioral problems and lower academic performance.

Public Health Research Group states that children’s exposure to food dyes has tripled since the mid 1980’s. Their study estimates that by the time a child is 12 years old, they may have already eaten 10 pounds of artificial food coloring. There is no way to compare our childhood or past generations exposure to what is occurring today. It’s unprecidented.

Children are the most vulnerable group due to their smaller size and rapid development as well as the fact that they are eating more of these foods than adults. Think colorful cereals, candies, and popular snacks including yogurt, boxed macaroni and cheese and even pickles! You will be surprised at just how many products contain these dyes once you start looking at the labels.

You may also be surprised to find out about dyes in vitamins and medicine.

Do-it-yourself: Where To Buy Natural and Organic Food Dye

What Are the Natural Choices for Food Coloring?

Today there are many foods that we can choose that contain naturally derived food dyes and many products that are produced without them altogether.

Some examples of natural food dyes include annatto, caramel coloring (made from caramelized sugar), betanin (beet extract), saffron, paprika, and elderberry.

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Buying organic foods is the easiest way to avoid artificial ingredients of any kind.

Buying organic foods is the easiest way to avoid artificial ingredients of any kind.

Where Can I Buy Foods that Contain Natural or No Dyes?

Buying organic foods labeled USDA Organic will ensure you avoid anything artificial in your food. Note that foods (without the USDA Organic label) can still be labeled to “contain organic ingredients” and may still contain ingredients such as artificial food coloring, so be wary.

Organic foods aren’t the only way to go. There are many grocery stores with their own health conscious brands such as Whole Foods Market 365 brand and Wegman’s Food You Feel Good About brand. You know when you’re buying these, you are buying a product free of artificial ingredients at the same time getting a great value.

More Resources on Effects of Artificial Food Coloring

My Disclaimer
Note that this website portrays my opinion. I want to help others consider a new or different view. Any action taken based on these opinions is the responsibility of the reader.

Copyright © 2018 Melis Ann
Original content written by Melis Ann published only on HubPages at the following web address:

Tell FDA to Ban Artificial Food Dyes

Better alternatives exists for many of the mainstream artificially colored products.

Better alternatives exists for many of the mainstream artificially colored products.

No Poison, No Downside! Avoid Artificial Food Coloring

You can call me an alarmist, you can tell me the studies aren’t conclusive, you can tell me that you or your parents ate foods that were artificially colored and that nothing happened. But it's not going to change my opinion that feeding children a by-product of petroleum is anywhere near beneficial to them. It's logical to me that our bodies will function better without the overload of toxins. Minimizing artificial food dyes can only do us good.

Not only is the risk of eating artificial colors significant enough to me, but easy enough to avoid. Why not make that change? There’s no downside.

As a society, we really need to force the change from the bottom up so that further change can be enabled. Consumers drive the market and we don't need to wait for government to tell us what's safe or unsafe.

© 2012 Melis Ann


Melis Ann (author) from Mom On A Health Hunt on February 22, 2012:

One simple change Sooner28! Thanks for reading and I'm glad you found this information helpful.

Sooner28 on February 22, 2012:

I'm glad you are raising awareness on this issue. I've never researched it; but it never sounded promising that our food has been dyed different colors. I will definitely have to keep this in mind with my future food choices.

Melis Ann (author) from Mom On A Health Hunt on January 28, 2012:

Thanks MaricaD - always adding new references to the topic is helpful to me and to the readers!

MarciaD on January 28, 2012:

Though no substitute for the Feingold Association, another good one is

Melis Ann (author) from Mom On A Health Hunt on January 27, 2012:

Thanks for providing that website - I have been to it and it is very useful!

MarciaD on January 26, 2012:

Great article. So important. Tell your readers about the Feingold Association. It teaches members how to avoid these dyes,etc. and exactly which brands to buy. The website is

Melis Ann (author) from Mom On A Health Hunt on January 26, 2012:

I certainly appreciate all the support out there! Thanks to everyone for their comments. It's great to hear the personal stories and get more inspiration for my next hub!

ACQHealth on January 26, 2012:

Excellent Hub!! Soon to be a first time mom, I feel these are important facts to know. The good news is, there ARE better options out there and there are far more flavorful ones too. I want to believe that teaching my child the importance of understanding what ingerdients are in certain foods will grant them the freedom to make choices that THEY feel are best for them as they get older or are surrounded by temptation. Parents have to start caring, being examples, and educating their kids not just telling them "no" to certain foods without them truly understanding why. These are the kinds of valuable lessons I feel are beneficial to parents and children in building better relationships with their nutrition habits.

Rod Martin Jr from Cebu, Philippines on January 25, 2012:

Wonderful Hub.

The USA is the testing ground for toxins. The real Scrooges of the world are getting ready to "decrease the surplus population." Sounds like an infestation.

All of those chemicals give them something to sell. It in turn helps others to sell their products (food coloring makes it all look so inviting). And the damage it does to our bodies gives them something else to sell: pharmaceuticals and the pharmaceutically-trained doctors who peddle the stuff.

The bad hats are making money off of inflation, deflation, chemicals that cause disease, chemicals that maintain disease (no cures here), taxes, wars (both sides) and likely a lot more.

I remember when armed marshals invaded my local health food store in Los Angeles to arrest unsuspecting apricots and raw milk. Our health is against the law.

And next, it seems the Rockefellers want to have each of us microchipped. We're easier to track and control that way. Pretty soon, you won't be able to buy anything without this "mark of the beast."

Funny, it seems that God knew about these things at least two thousand years ago. Perhaps we're all in for a bumpy ride.

Don't react; be proactive. Stay safe! And forgive the Rockefellers and their pals. They know not what they do. Really.

Debby Bruck on January 25, 2012:

Melis ~ Bravo! Voted up with this important message. Happy to hear you are educating your kids and they now think about what foods they put into their bodies. I'm sure they also tell their friends. The saddest part that you pointed out glares from the sensibilities of government agencies and personnel when they have the facts in their hands. These toxins should not be in our foods. Other nations lead the way, so why is the USA so backwards? Do they not really care about their own health, their children's health, the health of the nation all for a few more dollars in the bank? You can see, I am up in arms about this affair of government and industry. Blessings to you, Debby

Pollyannalana from US on January 25, 2012:

Great write! FDA I believe are out to poison and kill us. Not just this but lead poisoning from China, over and over. Salmonella from Mexico. Our farmers are all put out of business by the FDA because of the high standards put on them but other countries can poison us and it doesn't matter, no rules for them. We let them get by with too, much, please go on writing about this, it is great, voted up and over!


Marc Woodard from Portland, Oregon on January 25, 2012:

I've been stating for years, there's no way man could ever manipulate our food source better than what nature provides to us naturally. I don't see you as an alarmist but more of a realist that only wants the best for her family. In this way you are protecting your families health. Very good hub. Thanks!

Leah Lefler from Western New York on January 25, 2012:

There are studies showing a definitive link between tartrazine (a yellow dye) and hyperactivity in children. Europe uses natural food colorings - I have seen comparisons between breakfast bars in the US and in Europe: the US uses artificial, petroleum based dyes and Europe uses a red color made from beets. It is insane how the food industry lobbyists affect legislation in this country.

Great job on this hub!

Cynthia Calhoun from Western NC on January 25, 2012:

Beautiful hub! Wow, impressive!! I have heard so much about artificial food dyes. I try to grow a lot of my own food since organic can get so expensive. That and the fact that the petrol companies who have bookoo bucks can push the FDA around and get approvals even when things aren't safe...yeah, I shy away from any ingredients that I can't read or don't know what could be in them...including hand sanitizers.

Jason Menayan from San Francisco on January 25, 2012:

What a terrific Hub. I think about how much grape Kool-Aid that I drank as a kid and shudder now. I might have turned out normal had I not touched the stuff! ;) I'm glad there are alternatives, even since we can't necessarily rely on our government to ban the stuff.

hecate-horus from Rowland Woods on January 24, 2012:

I absolutely, 100% agree. Doesn't anyone make the connection with the HUGE rise in autism, ADD, ADHD, cancer, etc,etc, and the amount of preservatives and chemicals we have in our food?? No one? I mean, I'm no Dr., but geez...there has to be some kind of connection. I personally know of several parents putting their kids on a preservative, dye-free diet. It’s difficult, but it has absolutely amazing results. They focus so much better, even teachers comment on the positive difference in their children. I stay away from dyes and preservatives as much as possible…and I notice the negative effect it has on them when we stray into “junk food”. Anyway, thank you and voted up!!!

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