Part #1: Colorings and Preservatives

May 14, 2012

Thinking Beyond The Wrapper

Have you ever wondered why those red delicious apples at the store are such a deep beautiful red? Is that really natural? The truth of the matter is that it’s not natural. Think about all those brightly colored foods that we find so attractive at the grocery store. They are most often colored with a dye that has been made from various chemicals.

The food dyes used today in processed foods are completely unfit to eat. Many common food dyes, including Red 40, are made of petroleum! In fact, the chemical name of red #40 (found in ketchup, apples, cherries, salad dressings, popsicles, and so much more) is [6-hydroxy-5-[(2-methoxy-5-methyl-4-sulfophenyl)azo]-2-naphthalenesulfonic acid] (Red40.com). Whew! That does not sound natural at all! Studies have shown that food dyes pose a series of health risks when eaten, including cancer, allergic reactions, and hyperactivity in children.

In fact, a study conducted in Great Britain, showed that food colorings can have a significantly negative effect on the behavior of children. For two weeks 277 perfectly normal children were given fruit juice with no added ingredients. Later on, for two more weeks, they were given fruit juice which contained a blend of four food dyes and a preservatives. The study concluded that during the two weeks when the children consumed dyed fruit juice, nearly one in every four children showed clearly disturbed behavior, included temper tantrums and poor concentration (Thompson).

While natural colors (such as beets and paprika) could easily replace chemical dyes, they are found by manufactures to be more expensive than chemical dyes, and so chemicals continue to be used today in abundance. To give you an idea of just how widely they’re consumed, consider this: during the study mention earlier, the children were given just 20 milligrams of dye in their juice (about equal to the amount of dye found in two teaspoons of colored frosting). Now when you think of what American children eat on a daily basis – candy, soda, ice cream, popcicles, frostings – even a child could easily consume several hundred milligrams of dye each day!

If that’s not sickening enough, according to the CPSI, 6,800 TONS of dye was eaten in the year 2009 by the U.S. Public! (Kobylewski and Jacobson) No wonder that “over 5 million children ages four to 17 have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in the United States”. This number continues to grow, according to the Centers for Disease Control. So the next time you’re hungry for an apple, don’t choose the brilliant red ones. Before you buy a package of brightly colored food, make sure to check the ingredients list for the types of colorings listed. Names such as Red #40, Yellow #5, and Blue #1 should be avoided.

(I’m including my sources in case you’d like to see where I got this information from.)

Thompson, Denise. “Artificial (Chemical) Food Dyes.” BANTpractitioners. 2012. Web. Accessed 16 Apr. 2012 from <http://www.bantpractitioners.com/PDFs/Food%20Dyes.pdf>

Kobylewski, Sarah, and Jacobson, Michael. “Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks.” Center for Science in Public Interest. 2010.Web. Accessed 16 Apr. 2012 from <http://www.dyediet.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/food-dyes-rainbow-of-risks1.pdf>

Red40.com. “The Chemistry of Red 40.” Red40.com. 2003. Web. Accessed 30 Apr. 2012 from <http://www.red40.com/pages/chemistry.html>

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