March 27, 2013 by Dr. Sana Keller
Why do we have artificially colored food? To make it pretty of course—to make it more appealing maybe—or, as manufacturers say, make it more fun. But just what is in these typical food colorings that we find in most cereals, beverages, candies, desserts, meats, cosmetics, supplements, drugs, cough syrup, etc.?
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI–a nonprofit watchdog and consumer advocacy group focusing on nutritional education and awareness) estimates that about 15 million pounds of synthetic food dyes are used in our foods each year. CSPI states that the dyes used in many of the processed foods available can cause allergic reactions, hyperactivity, and even cancer. These colors do nothing to make the food taste better, be safer for us, or provide better nutrition. We usually see the artificial coloring listed on food labels as FD&C Blue #1, FD&C Red #40, FD&C Yellow # 5&6, etc.
According to James Huff, Associate Director for Chemical Carcinogenesis (studying chemicals that promote cancer) at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences’ National Toxicology Program, the continued use of food dyes presents “unnecessary risks to humans, especially young children. It’s disappointing that the FDA has not addressed the toxic threat posed by food dyes.”
Sadly, the US is lagging behind what other countries have already done to address this. The British government and the European Union have already taken action to stop the use of such dyes. If artificial dyes were banned in the US, it would force the food industry to color foods with real food ingredients instead of toxic chemicals. A quick example: Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Cereal Bars are colored with Red No. 40, Yellow No. 6 & Blue No. 1 in the US. The same Nutri-Grain product is colored with Beetroot red, Annatto, & Paprika extract (all natural, not synthetic) in the UK.
What to do? Being aware of the potential danger is the first step—thanks for reading! Secondly, look for “Contains no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives” on labels when shopping. Thirdly, keep your Color Radar up as to the thousands of ways manufacturers use coloring in foods and make other healthier choices. If enough of us started avoiding all foods colored with artificial chemicals, they would definitely notice! Fourthly (think I just made up that word!), check out the options below for adding SAFE color to foods.
Google ‘How to Make Organic Food Coloring.’ There are also several options for purchasing natural food coloring, including Maggie’s Naturals, India Tree Natural Decorating Colors, & Nature’s Flavors.
For individualized health recommendations, please contact me through my website: www.healthunlimited.biz
Photo credits: apartmenttherapy.com & onehungrymama.com