Did you know that more than 15 million pounds of artificial food colors are added to foods each year. This is over five times the amount added to the food supply when our parents were children.
What exactly are artificial food colors and how can they be dangerous to our health?
These food additives can be found in numerous food products including
- Soda & Juice
- Cakes & Baked Goods
- Breakfast Cereal
- Mac & Cheese
- Cereal bars
The following are some of the reasons I avoid buying food for my family that contain artificial food colors.
1. Lab Created
Artificial colors are created in a lab. Many are derived from toxic petrochemicals. Do we really need to eat food made with chemicals when they can be avoided?
2. Artificial Colors Require a Warning label
The EU enacted a law in 2010 that requires most dyed foods to bear a label warning consumers that food coloring
“may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”
In response, many food manufacturers reformulated their products for the European market to avoid the dyes.
Despite these reformulations and the warnings. The same products manufactured for the U.S still contain artificial food dyes.
3. Included in the Dirty Dozen
Artificial colors are included in the Environmental Working groups Dirty Dozen Guide to Food Additives.
What is this dirty dozen list? It contains the 12 worst food additives that are found in processed foods at the grocery store.
Your best bet to avoid these dirty dozen is to read food labels carefully before buying.
4. Are Artificial Food Colors Safe?
The safety of artificial dyes in food has been in question for DECADES.
California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) published a comprehensive report which confirms behavior problems in children associated with artificial food colors. The data is based on a review of results from 27 clinical trials in children performed on four continents over the last 45 years
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has a 68-page report called Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks. This report outlines concerns including hyperactivity and cancer risk as potential adverse effects.
Animal lab tests confirm that artificial colors can cause cancer.
Did you know
- After Halloween in 1950 Orange #1 was banned after children became ill after consuming candy colored with it.
- Red #2 was also banned in 1976 when it was found to cause intestinal tumors in rats.
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5. Is it Regulated?
The FDA recommends a maximum daily intakes for certain food colors. However these may not be realistic to follow. With a highly processed diet throughout the day the total amount of food dyes can add up quickly.
According to research from Purdue University the amount of dyes in common foods are much higher than expected. One bowl of brightly colored cereal or some candy and macaroni and cheese is enough artificial dyes to break the daily limit set by the FDA.
6. Unnecessary Risk
Why Are Artificial Colors in Our Food? One of the top reasons for using artificial colors in various foods is to make them look more appetizing. The more appealing a food looks, the more likely people are to buy it. But it is definitely not required and there are alternatives.
7. There are Natural Alternatives
There are a few reasons that food companies haven’t’ all switched over to natural food colors such as beets or mustard seeds.
Natural Food colors are
- Less stable – meaning they are more sensitive to light, heat, and changes in pH levels.
- Less intense – duller compared to synthetic versions
- More expensive
However due to consumer demand some companies are switching.
- Frito-Lay has replaced some artificial ingredients with natural alternatives like beet juice, purple cabbage and carrots.
- In 2016 Kraft agreed to reformulate its classic macaroni and cheese pasta to use annatto and paprika extract.
8. Children & Hyperactivity
Artificial food colors are a major concern when it comes to children.
A California EPA Study shows evidence that food dyes can cause hyperactivity and behavioral issues in children.
Some parents notice a drastic difference in their children’s personalities after removing dyes.
Check out these testimonials
Samantha is one of many children who are highly sensitive to many foods. She had uncontrollable tantrums shortly after consuming Red 40. After her mother happened to finally connect to dots and removed all Red 40 from her diet, there was a drastic improvement.
Alessandra suffered terrible uncontrollable tantrums shortly after consuming artificial dyes. She would stop responding to discipline, get angry and lash out in rage.
In a real life experiment a group of daycare kids were given packaged snacks like cookies and juice and another group was given whole foods such as sliced fruits, veggies or nuts. The result was a dramatic difference in kids behavior after the first day. Kids riled up and getting into fights became calmer and easier to manage.
9. Kids are Targeted
Unfortunately children tended to have higher exposure to artificial colors than adults.
According to the CSIP – more than 43% of products marketed to kids contain artificial colors. The highest proportion being candy, fruit flavored snacks and drinks.
These brightly colored foods are also promoting the consumption of highly processed junk foods and are designed to get our children addicted for life.
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How to Avoid Artificial Coloring
- Read food labels. It only takes a few seconds to scan the ingredient label before putting an item in your grocery cart.
- Using an app such as fooducate is an option – to find out which of your favorite brands contain artificial colors.
- Vote with your dollars and boycott brands still using artificial colors
To sum it all up. Artificial food colors are derived from toxic petrochemicals, an unnecessary proven health concern especially when it comes to children. Warning labels are required in Europe, when means despite a lack of package guidance we should be cautious. Fortunately artificial food colors are an ingredient that can be easily removed from your household pantry.