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  • Writer's pictureJeremy Wroten

Food Dye: A Rainbow of Risks

Updated: Jan 17, 2023

The verdict is in: Allowing processed food companies to pump food dye into our kid’s (and our) bodies is a recipe for health risks. They’ve been linked to behavioral problems with children, a reality which Dr. Jeremy and Joy have seen with their own children. In 2010, the Center for Science in the Public Interest concluded that the nine artificial dyes approved by the FDA are likely carcinogenic and cause hypersensitivity issues and behavioral problems. The amount of food dye each person consumes has increased five time since the 1950’s. These are the brightly colored “foods” that target children, an especially vulnerable and developing group.

A recent study found that Allura Red AC, a common artificial coloring, produced low-grade intestinal inflammation and disruption of the intestinal epithelial barrier, which is associated with IBS and colitis when tested in mice at normal dose levels.

Yellow 5, 6, and Red 40 contain benzidene, a human and animal carcinogen, which is allowed at presumably “safe” levels. Dr. Bernard Weiss, professor of environmental medicine at the University of Rochester, found evidence linking artificial food dyes to behavioral problems in children 30 years ago.

In the UK, food containing Red 40 and Yellow 5 must carry the warning that it could cause “an adverse effect on activity and attention in children”. Squeezing every last cent to produce more profit should not come at the expense of our families. We also have our seniors to consider, a group which continues to struggle with brain related disorders. From 1990 to 2016, cases of dementia have risen 117%. We can choose to do things differently. Europe uses pumpkin, carrot, strawberry and other natural extracts to provide color, rather than choosing to use chemicals.

We can help our kids by pointing out changes in their behavior, emotions or feelings of lethargy or hyper excitability when they’ve eaten foods containing dyes and other harmful but allowed chemicals. This can help them begin to see the relationship between what they eat and how they feel. When our kids bring us a candy or food with dyes, we point it out and put it back on the shelf. Our kids are too important to allow them to injury their bodies with harmful products.

Kwon, Y.H., Banskota, S., Wang, H. et al. Chronic exposure to synthetic food colorant Allura Red AC promotes susceptibility to experimental colitis via intestinal serotonin in mice. Nat Commun 13, 7617 (2022).

Weiss B. Environ Health Perspect. 2000;108(suppl 3):375-381

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