Why choose natural over artificial food colors?

What are artificial food dyes?  

Coloring agents such as FD & C Red No. 40 are petroleum-based, chemically produced dyes that were invented in the early 1900s. Little was known about the effect of synthetic food colors on our health, but with increased manufacturing production and grocery distribution, food companies found inventive new ways to market foods using artificial food coloring.

Dangers of using artificial food coloring

Through the years, concerns have been raised about the safety of artificial food dyes, mostly surrounding behavioral health disorders, allergic reactions, and carcinogenic properties.

  • ADHD
  • Carcinogenic contaminants
  • Allergic reactions

The major concern is the effect artificial food colorings have on Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). An estimated 9.5% of American children suffer from ADHD. Of these children, about 8% are likely have problems related to artificial food colorings. Although more research is needed to fully understand why artificial colors can aggravate ADHD, studies show that behavior improves when artificial coloring is removed from diets (CSPInet.org).

Even more severe health issues have been brought to light. According to the CSPI, the three most widely used dyes, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6, are contaminated with known carcinogens. Red 3 has been a recognized carcinogen by the FDA for years, yet it is still allowed in foods.

Allergic reactions to artificial coloring are widely reported, from rashes and watering eyes to asthma.

Because of raised awareness and consumer demand, the food industry has felt the heat. Kraft announced it will take Yellow Dye 5 & 6 out of some mac and cheese products, and General Mills is removing artificial coloring from childhood favorite Lucky Charms and Trix.

More major players are sure to follow suit, proving the public has decided to advocate with their buying dollars and put their children’s health first.

Join the discussion. Tell us about your experience with food colors. Share on our Facebook page, comment on our blog, or send us an email directly. We’d love to hear from you!

Learn more about why natural coloring is the healthy choice:

FORBES: Living in Color: The Potential Dangers of Artificial Dyes

CNN: Goodbye to artificial colors?

HEALTHY CHILD HEALTHY WORLD: Avoid artificial foods dyes to reduce hyperactivity and ADHD

HUFFPOST: Halloween Warning: Watch Out for Neurotoxic Artificial Food Dyes in M&M's Candies