Why Artificial Food Coloring Matters?

Why Artificial Food Coloring Matters?




What do Allure Red, Carmoisine, Sunset Yellow and Tartrazine all have in common? Some fancy names huh.

YES! You guess it right. They‘re all names of food colorings. One more thing they are in common, which you might not know…

You commonly see them in food packages or beverages labels…but did you know these food coloring that our children are consuming everyday are banned in parts of Europe.

The University of Southampton reported a study commissioned by the British Food Standards Agency that linked consumption of food dyes and sodium benzoate to increase in hyperactive behaviors in children and possibly lower IQs.

The additives tested in the research were:

§ Sunset yellow (E110) (FD&C; Yellow #6)

§ Carmoisine (E122) – Red coloring in jellies

§ Tartrazine (E102) (FD&C; Yellow #5)

§ Ponceau 4R (E124) – Red coloring

§ Quinoline yellow (E104) – Yellow coloring

§ Allura red AC (E129) (FD&C; Red #40)

§ Sodium benzoate (E211) – Preservative

On April 10, 2008, the Food Standards Agency called for a voluntary removal of the six food colorings tested, but not sodium benzoate the preservative. The European Union (EU) began requiring products that contain artificial food dyes to have warning labels that state “consumption may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”

Wow, the Europeans are serious. We have warning labels on cigarettes because tobacco causes cancer. But warning labels on candies? That’s serious.

Out of the six food colorings banned in Europe, four are still currently approved for use by the FDA in the United States. They are Sunset yellow (E110) (FD&C; Yellow #6), Carmoisine (E122) (FD&C; Red #3), Tartrazine (E102) (FD&C; Yellow #5) and Allura Red (E129) (FD&C; Red #40).

Check out the list of food additive ingredients approved for use by the FDA.

What is the United States doing?

Despite Europe’s tight stance on food dyes and the numerous clinical studies showing the increased risk to children who consume them, the FDA continues to support the idea that there is not enough evidence and has been reluctant to address the issue until now.

In a recent statement, FDA staff admitted: “For certain susceptible children with ADHD and other problem behaviors, the data suggest their condition may be exacerbated” by substances in food including artificial colors. According to the FDA, Americans were consuming five times more artificial food dyes in 2007 than in 1955.

What are US companies doing?

Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s have pledged not to sell products with synthetic food colors. And Starbucks doesn’t allow food dyes in its beverages or pastries. However, Starbucks still ended up in trouble with its vegan customers for one of its natural food colorings that originated from bug juice.

Other companies have reformulated their products to meet the regulations in Europe. Kraft and McDonald’s have stopped using artificial colorings abroad while they continue to sell foods with the undesirable ingredients in the U.S. market. How rotten business people are.

Kellogg’s strawberry Nutri-Grain Cereal Bars sold in the U.S. contain Red No. 40, Yellow No. 6 and Blue No. 1. But the “supposedly” same Nutri-Grain Cereal Bars in the U.K., contain natural colorings, such as beet root red, annatto and paprika extra.

What Can You Do?

Arm Yourself with Knowledge. Learn to read the ingredient labels on food and beverages containers. Don’t forget about medications too. Food dyes are frequently found in medications as well.

Here is a list of Natural Food Color to get know:

§ Caramel coloring (E150), caramelized sugar

§ Annatto (E160b), a reddish-orange dye from the seed of the achiote.

§ Chlorophyllin (E140), a green dye made from chlorella algae

§ Cochineal (E120), a red dye from the cochineal bug. This coloring recently got Starbucks in trouble with its vegan customers.

§ Betanin (E162) from beets

§ Turmeric (curcuminoids, E100)

§ Saffron (carotenoids, E160a)

§ Paprika (E160c)

§ Lycopene (E160d)

§ Elderberry juice

§ Pandan (Pandanus amaryllifolius), a green food dye

§ Butterfly pea (Clitoria ternatea), a blue food dye

Click here for suggestion on an natural alternative food colors for your next baking project.




Author: Anna

I'm a board-certified Pediatric Nutritionist, who takes care of medically-fragile infants and children in the US Defense System; I'm mother of a teenager and a real estate investor. I love spending time with friends and family playing tennis, golf, hiking and stand-up-paddling. And we live in Honolulu, Hawaii.