READ THE LABEL [CHAPTER 8] Artificial Dyes

Source: nutritionaloutlook.comOh boy. The more we go through these chapters, the more it scares me how much we trust big business to supply us with “choices.” Are we really given choices? Or is it more of the same stuff just in different wrappers and different price points? It’s only the educated consumer that really knows how to choose properly and demands change.

Why the heck is there artificial dye in food, medicine, cosmetics and clothing? Well, sadly, it goes back to marketing. It’s the idea of “How can we attract buyers quickly and get them to consume more and faster?” Further, psychological tests have been performed for years on how the general consumer (you and me) makes decisions based on color, smell, taste, feel, and other emotional connections. Simply put, the economics of life is all about supply and demand. And we surely know how much that big business wants us to demand! Just to put it in perspective of big business; L’Oreal made a gross profit of $11,500,737,664.61 US Dollars in the FIRST HALF of 2013!  I can’t even say that number!

Wikipedia goes on to say that artificial dyes are used to:

  • offset color loss due to exposure to light, air, temperature extremes, moisture and storage conditions
  • correct natural variations in color
  • enhance colors that occur naturally
  • provide color to colorless and “fun” foods

Why do you think certain colors such as oranges, yellows and reds are used for fast food chains? Those colors induce hunger, and there are studies to prove it.

It’s used in cosmetics to attract us to beauty and sex.

The Truth About Artificial Dye in Food

I’m sure you’ve heard some news hype about kids being hyperactive from eating food coloring. Is it true? Indeed, it is! These stories are only backed by recent studies that demonstrate children who eat additives are more likely to have behavioral problems than those who do not. Check out more info below for each artificial color.

The 9 FDA-Approved Colors for Food, Drugs & Cosmetics

Whenever you see FD&C, this stands for Food, Drug and Cosmetics. You’ll often see this acronym associated with artificial dyes that the FDA has approved as safe for those applications.

The numbers of these certified colors should give you an idea just how many colors have been invented; and aren’t approved for use. FYI – these are considered GRAS by the FDA; generally recognized as safe artificial dyes. It’s important to note that the safety of artificial dyes is viewed differently in other parts of the world. Below is strictly related to the FDA FD&C colors.

Blues 1 & 2

In the United Kingdom, Smarties chocolates were colored with Brilliant Blue FCF (top) until 2008, later being replaced with a natural spirulina coloring (bottom). In the United Kingdom, Smarties chocolates were colored with Brilliant Blue FCF (top) until 2008, later being replaced with a natural spirulina coloring (bottom).

Blue 1 aka Brilliant Blue is produced using hydrocarbons and petroleum. Combined with tartrazine (coal tar); yes coal tar; it can create shades of green. This dye isn’t absorbed by intestines very well so it will come out when we move our bowls; that’s about 95% of blue dye that our body doesn’t know what to do with!

According to Wikipedia: You’ll find Blue 1 in ice cream, canned peas, packet soups, bottled food colorings, icings, ice pops, blue raspberry flavored products, dairy products, candy and drinks, especially the liqueur blue curacao. It is also used in soaps, shampoos, mouthwash and other hygiene and cosmetics applications. In soil science, Brilliant Blue is applied in tracing studies to visualize infiltration and water distribution in the soil.

Blue 2 aka Indigo is used for a variety of reasons in addition to FD&C applications. It’s used in medical procedures to show the urinary tract path of fluid so health practitioners can identify any obstructions or leaks. There is some danger associated with increasing blood pressure. In its concentrated state, Indigo blue may be harmful to the respiratory tract if inhaled. It is also an irritant to the skin and eyes.

Green 3
Also known as FAST Green; this beautiful shade of turquoise
is banned in EU  and other countries in food. While it is one of the safer dyes; our intestines, however, do not absorb it very well. It has caused growth inhibition in rats in a lab studies. Wikipedia states that it can be used for tinting canned green peas and other vegetables, jellies, sauces, fish, desserts and dry bakery mixes. (I’m thinking why dye a fish green??)

So while the FDA considers this dye safe; it has been found to create tumors in experimental animals, as well as mutagenic effects in both experimental animals and humans. It furthermore risks irritation of eyes, skin, digestive tract, and respiratory tract in its undiluted form.

Acute symptoms/signs of exposure to Green 3:
Eyes: Redness, tearing, itching, burning, conjunctivitis (eye infections).
Skin: Redness, itching.Ingestion: Irritation and burning sensations of mouth and throat, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.
Inhalation: Irritation of mucous membranes, coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath.
If you’re not convinced, check out the MSDS below in the source list for emergency response when you consume or expose yourself to Fast Green.

Reds 3 & 40

Red 3  – Also known as erythrosine; this cherry pink artificial dye commonly used in food coloring, candies, popsicles, cake-decorating, printing inks and for medical use. In the 90s the FDA  instituted a partial ban on erythrosine, citing research that high doses have been found to cause cancer in rats (Washington Post).

In June 2008, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) petitioned the FDA for a complete ban on erythrosine in the United States (CBS news). Although several toxicology tests and review of other reported studies concluded that erythrosine does not cause mutations (George, et al 1986).

Red 40  – Aka Allura Red, is also produced by coal tar or petroleum and is the most commonly used dye in the United States. A 2007 report from Southampton University questioned the safety of azo food dyes (the type of dye that makes Red 40) in three year old and 8-9 year old children (McCann, et al 2007). Studies have shown that children who eat red dye are more likely to be active and out of control than those who avoid it. Reactions have been reported about reactions to Red-40, such as children recovering from ADHD, OCD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder (whatever that is), and sleep disturbances after the dye was eliminated from their diet. Allura red is banned in several European countries in food. Red 40 is used in some tattoo inks, makeup, lipstick, and several consumable products such as candy, soft drinks and children’s medications.

I’m personally highly allergic to Red 40 as its used to dye farm-raised salmon. I actually experience anaphylaxis where my throat closes up and I suffocate. Interestingly, the Benadryl needed to combat this histamine reaction is also dyed with Red 40!

Yellows 5 & 6
Like red and blue artificial dyes, artificial yellow is also
made of Tartrazine;  coal tar. If people are allergic to artificial dyes, it’s more commonly associated with artificial yellow dyes.

Yellow 5  – Norway has banned its use, while Austria and Germany restrict its use. People who are asthmatic and those who are allergic to aspirin are most likely to be intolerant of it.

While there’s no evidence to prove it, some say Yellow 5 provokes asthma attacks, itching and hives occur, anxiety, headache, depression, blurred vision, rash, weakness, heat waves, runny nose, and sleep disturbances.

Yellow 6 – Can cause allergic reactions, especially to those intolerant to aspirin. Can cause upset stomach, diarrhea, vomiting, rash and liver toxicity.

Orange B
FDA restricts its use to the casing on hot dogs and sausages.

Citrus Red 2 
The FDA restricts its use to spray the
skin of oranges. Why? To make them appeal more “orange” so you can buy it!!  Why does the FDA restrict it to the outside of oranges only? Because it is a carcinogen. Because the skins are so thick, it is not absorbed into the pulp. But if you peel the orange with your fingers, then you touch the fruit, it’s called cross contamination! You should wash and peel your oranges before eating them, and wash your hands after handling the skin before you begin eating. Just buy organic!

Just Avoid These Dyes all Together
I haven’t found any data linking exposure of artificial dyes and cosmetics; however, it’s still being applied to the body! Just reduce your overall exposure to chemicals.

Most of these dyes can be easily avoided. Just be an educated consumer and read the labels. Avoid processed foods, because they are LOADED with just crap. Sorry folks, almost all candy has food coloring in it, even your favorite M&Ms with Blue Lake, Red 40, Yellow 6, etc. Even your favorite chips; e.g. Cheetos, Doritos, etc. have dye!!

There are natural dyes out there like beets for red; spinach for green; turmeric or saffron for yellow, annatto for red/orange/yellow variations, berries for blue.

Feel free to share your experience with natural dyes or artificial dyes.

Stay tuned for more excerpts from my presentation “READ THE LABEL: Understanding Natural and Organic Skin Care.”

Written by Dahlia Kelada, from her presentation READ THE LABEL: Understanding Natural & Organic Skin Care  © 2014 All Rights Reserved

L’Oreal is Bankin’


MSDS Fast Green

Donna McCann, Angelina Barrett, Alison Cooper, Debbie Crumpler, Lindy Dalen, Kate Grimshaw, Elizabeth Kitchin, Kris Lok, Lucy Porteous, Emily Prince, Edmund Sonuga-Barke, John Warner, Jim Stevenson (November 3, 2007). “Food additives and hyperactive behaviour in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the community: a randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial”. The Lancet 370 (9598): 1560–1567. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(07)61306-3. PMID 17825405. Retrieved 2010-12-14.

FDA: Red Dye’s Reluctant Regulator; Partial Ban Points to Limitations of 30-Year-Old Delaney Clause, The Washington Post, February 7, 1990

FDA Urged To Ban Some Food Dyes, CBS News, June 3, 2008

Lin, George H. Y.; Brusick, David J. (1986). “Mutagenicity studies on FD&C Red No.3”. Mutagenesis 1 (4): 253–259. doi:10.1093/mutage/1.4.253. PMID 2457780

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