Food Coloring, How Safe Are You? Is what you’re eating chemically produced or naturally grown?

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As any healthy conscience consumer knows, reading labels, using informative food related websites and an application to research and judge what’s healthy vs. what’s not occurs daily.

On the flip side, there are consumers that don’t have the available tools or are starting to pay more attention and often times, have a hard time determining what’s healthy and what’s not.

Ask yourself this: what are food colorings and preservatives and how are they used in the foods you consume?

Thinking back to childhood years, as youngsters, we never cared too much about gummy bear colors or why juice has a bright pink tint to it. No. As children, food was given to us to enjoy and help us grow, end of story.

Today, we live in a completely different world – information is shared like never before, making it harder for companies to keep tight lids on their operations.

Such as Starbucks, back in March 16, 2012 released a report stating they will stop using crushed cochineal bugs to produce a red dye in the Strawberry Frappucinos.

Which lead me to wonder, what else are we consuming with dyes added? I’m an intelligent individual who enjoys eating healthy but I’m also someone who takes the extra step to research what’s added into foods and drinks before consuming.

When I read about the Starbucks report, it wasn’t a shocker. Below are seven main dyeing agents that the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have approved. Read on to find out more.

Blue Coloring. You may notice these food coloring and preservatives listed on the side of cereal boxes, found coating your chocolate M&Ms, etc.

Blue Number 1 dye is considered a “brilliant blue” which creates a medium blue shade.  While this coloring is banned in several European counties, the US still uses in products such as dairy products, cereal, M&Ms, etc.

This dye originally contained tar but is now commonly made from oil base. Another blue dye, “Blue Number 2” or “idigotine” is the same chemical found in blue M&M’s as well as your blue jeans.

Blue dyes are relatively safe, however, there’s debate about this dye causing attention deficit disorder and is still an on going study.

Green Number 3 is found in canned vegetables. Also known as Fast Green FCF, it is a green dye that is found in items such as: jelly, candy, fish, frozen desserts, and some beverages.



This dye is not permitted in Europe due to various animal studies which showed it to be a possible carcinogen.

Red Number 40 is commonly found in pre-packaged foods like Trix and Lucky Charms cereals. A few other places this dye is found? Twizzlers, Doritos and Nurti-grain cereal bars.

Now, you’re perhaps wondering, is this dye safe to consume? I’m assuming if you’ve eaten any of the above products, you’re OK. However, there have been reports of this dye causing hyper activity in children.

Food manufacturers are not required to put FD&C Red No. 40 on food ingredient labels so if you’re unsure, avoid overly bright processed foods such as Philbury brands and pre-packaged dry cake mix.

Red Number 3 or “erythrosine” is known as a cherry-pink synthetic food coloring. This dye is typically found in popsicles, sweets and candies. Did you know this is used to color those amazing pistachio nuts?

Perhaps you should rethink your sweet tooth cravings? Fortunately, this coloring is not used as much in the United States as it is in other areas of the world.

Yellow Number 5 is also known as “tartazine” as it is a synthetic lemon azo dye used commonly around the world and found in popular snacks and foods such as chewy gummy bears or spreads like marmalades.

There are quite a few foods that fall into this category. Yellow Number 5 is not only found in foods but in non-food items such as soaps and cosmetics

Yellow Number 6 or “sunset yellow” is used in a variety of bakery foods, desserts and drinks that are probably found in your refrigerator or pantry such as butter, ice cream, orange squashes, hot chocolate mix and orange soda.

If you’re really craving a snack try reaching for fruit or fill up on a leafy green salad.

If you’re looking to improve your diet, try cutting back on foods containing additives and preservatives and opt for fresh organic foods such as fresh vegetables, fruits and meats free from pesticides, food coloring and preservatives.

You can also check the FDA website for more information regarding the above.

Lora is a professional freelance writer covering an array of healthy topics to the world.