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How Dangerous Are Food Dyes To Our Children’s Health?

how-dangerous-are-food-dyes-to-our-childrens-healthFor years scientists have known that there is a link between dangerous food dyes and hyperactivity in kids and cancer. A study published in Science found that when kids who scored high on a scale measuring hyperactivity consumed a blended food-dye they performed worse on tests that measured their ability to remember pictures and images than when they didn’t.

Although, specific dyes like Red#40 and Yellow#5 have come under increased scrutiny because of multiple reports and studies from parents linking these food dyes to children’s behavior. The FDA refuses to ban them, sighting that there is no conclusive evidence that links these dyes to either ADHD or children’s behavior and they state that more tests should be done.

Unfortunately, because the FDA is underfunded and overworked their approval process can take years or even decades to revoke decisions. With that said, they’re only 7 dyes approved today by the FDA down from 10 artificial dyes that have been delisted since 1938 because the FDA found them to be unsafe and harmful for human consumption. And that was down from 80 in 1906.

However, the European Union and Great Brittain have taken a stronger stance. In 2009 the British government and the European Union asked its food companies to stop using artificial dyes in food. They’ve become increasingly concerned about the link between artificial dyes and hyperactivity and cancer. Today major food companies like Cadbury, Haribo, Kraft, Kellogs, and much more no longer use artificial dyes in products they sell throughout Europe.

Food dyes are one of the most widely used and dangerous additives. While the European Union has banned the use of these dangerous additives, the United States still has no plans to do so. Today many Americans consume 5X more food dyes than in the 50’s despite overwhelming evidence of its danger. In addition, many parents have seen drastic improvements in their children’s behavior when they took them off food dyes like Yellow#5 and Red#40.

With that said, more parents should remove and avoid these dyes from their kids’ diets. Please find listed below the artificial food dyes used today:

FD&C Yellow #5 (TARTRAZINE) E102 (yellow shade) 

Health Concerns: May cause insomnia, asthma, Chromosomal damage, Lymphomas, aggression violent behavior, Thyroid tumors, allergies, Neurochemical and behavioral effects, sometimes-severe hypersensitivity reactions and might trigger hyperactivity and other behavioral effects in children. Yellow#5 is derived from coal tar and is the number one allergy-causing dye. Allergies to Yellow#5 can range from mild indigestion to severe depression. Roughly 360,000 Americans have bad reactions to ingesting Yellow#5. Yellow#5 is a common dye in candy, cereal, and many other processed foods.

Commonly found in: Pet foods, numerous bakery goods, beverages, dessert powders, candies, cereals, gelatin desserts, and many other foods, as well as pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.

Currently banned inNorway

FD&C Red #40 (ALLURA RED) E129 (red shade)

Health Concerns: This is the most-widely used and consumed artificial dye. It may cause Chromosomal damage, Lymphomas, and Hyperactivity. Red#40 was introduced as a replacement for amaranth, which is on the FDA’s banned list. Red#40 is derived from either coal tar or petroleum and has been linked to extreme allergies, asthma, and migraines. In lab studies, it was reported that It may accelerate the appearance of immune system tumors in mice. It also causes hypersensitivity (allergy-like) reactions in some individuals and might trigger hyperactivity in children.

Commonly found in:: Beverages, bakery goods, dessert powders, candies, cereals, foods, drugs, and cosmetics.

FD&C Yellow #6 (SUNSET YELLOW) FCF, E110 (orange shade)

Health Concerns: It’s derived from petroleum. And it may cause Asthma, Eczema, hives, Chromosomal damage, food allergies (Aspirin allergies), Thyroid tumors and Hyperactivity. In laboratory studies, it caused Adrenal tumors in animals and occasionally causes severe hypersensitivity reactions including migraines, digestive problems, and blocked airways.

Commonly found in: Color bakery goods, cereals, beverages, dessert powders, candies, gelatin deserts, sausage, cosmetics, and drugs.

Currently banned in: Norway, Sweden, and is being phased out of the UK

FD&C Red #3 (ERYTHROSINE) E127 (pink shade, commonly used in glacé cherries) 

Health Concerns: Red#3 causes Chromosomal damage, Neurochemical, and behavioral effects. It has been partially banned by the FDA for known health risks, specifically Thyroid cancer and is banned in cosmetics and externally applied drugs. It has also been linked to other cancers and is currently under review for a full ban. Red#3 has mostly been replaced with Red#40 but is still used in things like fruit roll ups and chewing gum.

Commonly found in: Sausage casings, oral medication, maraschino cherries, baked goods, and candies.

Currently banned in: FDA tried and failed

FD&C, Blue #1 (BRILLIANT BLUE) FCF, E133 (blue shade)

Health Concerns: An unpublished study suggested the possibility that Blue#1 caused kidney tumors in mice. It’s derived from coal tar, hence the human body can’t digest it, which can lead to green stools. Blue#1 has been linked to ADHD, Allergies, and Asthma.

Commonly found in: Beverages, cereal, candies, baked goods, dessert powders, drugs, and other products.

Currently banned in: France and Finland

FD&C Blue #2 (INDIGO CARMINE) E132 (dark blue shade) 

Health Concerns: In laboratory studies, causes a statistically significant incidence of tumors, particularly Brain Gliomas, in male rats. Blue #2 has been linked to ADHD in children and Food Allergies. It’s the same dye used to make blue jeans blue. This artificial dye is based derives from the chemical make-up of the natural dye indigo, which is an ancient, plant-based dye.

Commonly found in: Candies, pet food, Colored beverages, and other food and drugs.

Currently banned in: Norway

FD&C Green #3 (FAST GREEN) FCF, E143 (turquoise shade) 

Health Concerns: In laboratory studies, it caused significant increases in bladder and testes tumors in male rats. It’s also been linked to Testicular cancer and tumors in lab animals and causes irritation of the Gastrointestinal Tract. It’s commonly used in candy.

Commonly found in: Beverages, ice cream, candies, Drugs, ingested drugs, personal care products, lipsticks, cosmetic products except in eye area, sorbet, and externally applied cosmetics.

Currently banned in: Europe

Citrus Red #2

Health Concerns: It’s toxic to rodents at modest levels and caused tumors of the urinary bladder and possibly other organs.

Commonly found in: Skins of Florida oranges.

Currently banned in: US food Processing

Today only, 30% to 40% of our food is colored with naturally-derived food dyes and considering the adverse impact of synthetic dyes to children’s health more effort should be taken to increase those numbers. And until the FDA bans these dangerous dyes, avoid giving your kids processed foods as much as possible.

Please find listed below alternatives to synthetic Dyes:


Red cabbage




Turmeric powder


Safron Powder






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