Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Red Hats and Red Shoes are Cool…Red Dye in our Food is Not

By: Kerry McKenzie

This blog could be considered part 3 of my Eat Well, Be Well series expressing yet another reason why it’s so important to eat “clean” (whole, natural, fresh) foods. Food dyes (Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue 1 and several others) are hiding in many processed foods and medicine and children are having adverse reactions to them, particularly behavior problems. Ingesting these synthetic artificial food dyes can cause the following issues, but not all inclusive, in both children and adults:

Irritability
Headaches
Angry or aggressive behavior
Inability to concentrate
Sleep problems
Increased symptoms of autism and ADHD
Cancer
According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, “Commonly used food dyes, such as Yellow 5, Red 40, and six others, are made from petroleum and pose a ‘rainbow of risks.’

Why are food dyes even in our foods? The simple answer is that they are used by manufacturers so they can make cheap, unhealthy products and they are pleasing to our eyes (colorful, healthy and appetizing – or so we think). Food dyes are contained in many processed foods including snack foods, candies, margarine, soft drinks, cheese, macaroni and cheese, jams and jellies, desserts, flavored popcorn, yogurt, cereal, and more.

Did you know that about 15 million pounds of these petroleum-based dyes continue to be used in food each year in the United States? Yuck!! Yikes!!

These chemicals are really unhealthy for our children so Choosy says, “it's time to get rid of them altogether!” and consider avoiding them or replace them with safe, natural ingredients.

But how?

  1. Be choosy by reading labels and avoid products with “artificial coloring” or that contain names with numbers - Red #3, Red #40, Yellow #5, Yellow #6, Citrus Red #2, Green #3, Blue #1, and Blue #2.
  2. Skip packaged foods marketed at kids. Leave anything brightly colored or unnatural looking on store shelves.
  3. Shop the sides and the spice isle. Buy fresh vegetables, fruits, and spices that can be used to color frosting and foods naturally:
    • Red or Pink: Beets (puree or juice), cranberry juice, pomegranate juice, strawberries and raspberries (puree), paprika
    • Orange or Yellow: Mango (puree), carrot (puree or juice, golden beets (puree or juice), yellow curry, turmeric, saffron
    • Blue or Purple: Blueberries (puree), red grapes (juice)
    • Green: Basil (puree), spinach (puree), mint (puree), mashed avocado, green tea powder

Check out these websites to learn more about how to make you own food coloring:

Here’s some food for thought from the Center for Science in the Public Interest:

“Back in 1985, the acting commissioner of the FDA said that Red 3, one of the lesser-used dyes, “has clearly been shown to induce cancer” and was “of greatest public health concern.” However, Secretary of Agriculture John R. Block pressed the Department of Health and Human Services not to ban the dye, and he apparently prevailed—notwithstanding the Delaney Amendment that forbids the use of in foods of cancer-causing color additives. Each year about 200,000 pounds of Red 3 are poured into such foods as Betty Crocker’s Fruit Roll-Ups and ConAgra’s Kid Cuisine frozen meals. Since 1985 more than five million pounds of the dye have been used.

“Tests on lab animals of Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 showed signs of causing cancer or suffered from serious flaws, said the consumer group. Yellow 5 also caused mutations, an indication of possible carcinogenicity, in six of 11 tests.

“In addition, according to the report, FDA tests show that the three most-widely used dyes, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6, are tainted with low levels of cancer-causing compounds, including benzidine and 4-aminobiphenyl in Yellow 5. However, the levels actually could be far higher, because in the 1990s the FDA and Health Canada found a hundred times as much benzidine in a bound form that is released in the colon, but not detected in the routine tests of purity conducted by the FDA.”

How can we be even more “choosy” about the foods we buy and serve our children? Share your tips and ideas with us!

About the Author: Kerry McKenzie, B.A., M.S., has been working in education for more than 13 years. She is a Certified Health Coach, a 500 level (E-RYT500) yoga teacher and specializes in early childhood motor development. She has a passion for working with expecting moms, babies, toddlers and preschool age children and their caregivers at Greenville Health Systems pediatric clinic, child care centers and in the community. Click here to learn more about Kerry.

46 comments :

  1. Totally agree! We try to avoid red dye as much as possible, especially with our 10yo son w/ ADHD.

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    1. It is so hard to avoid red dyes so great job on working to do so!!

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  2. Great post! I just saw on the Today Show this morning that some cereal companies are removing artificial coloring's from cereal. It seems that we may be moving in the right direction!

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    1. I'm sad I missed that on the Today Show! Will have to look it up but that is great news!!!

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  3. So much great info in this post! Artificial food dyes are so frustrating because they are SO unnecessary. I'm glad that some companies are finally eliminating them. It's a great start!

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    1. It is a start in the right direction!!

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  4. Wow, I didn't know red dye could be so harmful! Thank you so much for this post - now I know!!

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    1. And it is not just red dyes. Food dyes in general are dangerous.

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  5. My cousin tried to go off red dye for adhd reasons and I know it helped her a little but I'm not sure how much. It is very interesting though!

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    1. Every little bit helps! Good luck to her!

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  6. Ughhh I hate all things artificial! I try my hardest to avoid, but fake blood and color is everywhere :-/

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    1. lol I literally laughed thinking what does fake blood have to do with food dyes?!? :P

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  7. We don't buy a lot of "processed" food, my son doesn't even eat candy or does much snacking, but I'll certainly take a closer look at the ones we still do buy occasionally.

    Thanks for sharing, great info :)

    Alex - Funky Jungle

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    1. It is really hard to stay away from processed food so go you for being able to provide the best foods for your child!

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  8. I try hard to limit the amount of red dye my little man gets. He's already borderline ADHD, so red dye is the last thing he needs.

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    1. Isn't it amazing what the smallest amount of red dye can do?!

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  9. We are very careful about the type of food we buy, we are trying to have a cleaner diet but that isn't always easy I know xxx

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    1. It isn't easy but at least your are aware and try to avoid specific things.

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  10. Some of those facts are really quite scary. We try to avoid things with additives in as much as possible but it isn't always easy!

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    1. It is scary what goes into food these days. At least we know and can try to avoid dyes at all costs.

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  11. This is such interesting information for parents to know. It is very important to know exactly what your family is eating and how it will affect them.

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    1. I love that we have a better understanding how certain things effect our bodies.

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  12. Very true on the suggestions on how to eat healthy and clean. The tips are important for our every day lives.

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    1. Thanks! Glad that you agree with them!

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  13. These are definitely good things to consider. I'm going to have to try some new ways of coloring!

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    1. It can be fun too! Try some new colors/flavors in your foods.

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  14. I try to steer clear of processed food. These are great tips. Reading the labels is very important.

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    1. Reading labels should be taught in school! It can be quite confusing as to what you are reading.

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  15. Same sentiments here. I try to avoid artificially colored food as much as possible. Dyes are supposed to be used for other stuff, not in food.

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    1. Thanks for your comment. Glad that you agree!

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  16. This is my first time hearing about the disadvantages of the dyes they use in food. Thanks for the insightful post.

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    1. Well I am glad that you are now aware!

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  17. We don't use artificial colors in our house. It's always freaked me out a little

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    1. I've been noticing lately really how many products have artificial flavoring in them. Sometimes you think the food is healthy but it is just packed with dyes and sugars!

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  18. This is amazing article, we are trying to choose wisely for the colors and I'm gonna try some cool colors.

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    1. Thanks! Please let us know what you try!

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  19. I cringe every time my kids are offered a freezie or gummy bear- dyes are not supposed to be in kids treats. I try to buy only naturally coloured and flavoured foods.

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    1. How old are your kids? How does the dye effect them?

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  20. We do our best to make sure our SPD kiddo gets no Red 40. Grandma always manages to give him something of course and you can totally see the difference in his personality.

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    1. Isn't it amazing the impact it has on some kids? Glad that you know what to avoid but now you need to teach Grandma which can be harder than teaching your child!

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  21. Didn't know red dye could be so harmful. Going to certainly avoid it with our kiddos in the future.

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    1. Glad that you know now! Good luck avoiding it!!

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  22. These are great subs for dyes. I try my best to avoid them at all costs. I don't like all the side effects I have heard of coming from red dye.

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    1. Glad that you try to avoid them. The more awareness we bring to the topic, then maybe the food "makers" will do a 180 and change the way they use dyes.

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  23. Wow! I had no idea about red dye. What a great piece of info!

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