Food Alert: Synthetic Food Coloring

Synthetic coloring isn’t something most of us consider when making food purchases. We may look for sugar, sodium, fat and other nutritional content, but how many of us actually read through the list of ingredients? And if we do, do we even know what we’re reading? So much of what goes into processed foods isn’t even pronounceable. Also, food coloring is often used in meats (farm raised salmon) and fresh fruits (oranges, to correct brown spots), which don’t contain ingredient labels. Synthetic coloring is something we should all be aware of, however, as research has shown it to be harmful to humans in many ways. The concern is great enough that several colorings have already been pulled off the market, and there is pressure to pull more.

What are the dangers of synthetic food coloring?

• Cancer
• Tumors
• Sterility
• Hormone Disruption
• Chromosomal Damage
• Allergic Reactions
• Asthma
• Headaches
• Immune System Suppression

Currently, there are 7 colorings still being used today in the United States, and many more that have been discontinued. Other countries, such as many Asian countries, still allow colorings that have been banned in the U.S., while some of the colorings still used in the U.S. have been banned in European countries. In the U.S., the colorings still in use are:

• Blue No.1
• Blue No. 2
• Green No. 3
• Red No. 40
• Red No. 3
• Yellow No. 5
• Yellow No. 6

Those colorings that have been discontinued are:

• Violet No. 1
• Red No. 2
• Red No. 4
• Red No. 32
• Orange No. 1
• Orange No. 2
• Yellow No. 1
• Yellow No. 2
• Yellow No. 3
• Yellow No. 4

Synthetic food colorings are made from petroleum and coal tar products. They often contain arsenic, lead, and other harmful elements, as well. Products targeted at children are especially likely to contain food coloring. (Think candy and soda.) Even children’s toothpaste and vitamins are full of food coloring! And children are especially vulnerable to such synthetics. Numerous studies have shown that children diagnosed with ADHD have shown vast improvement when all food colorings, Red No. 40 in particular, were removed from their diet.

In my own life, I’ve recently stopped buying certain products because they contain food coloring, and I’m constantly on the look-out for more. (Of course, if I’m hankering for Laffy Taffys or a Coke, I will occassionally indulge. You gotta have some fun in life!) Among those to go:

• Gatorade
• Total Cereal
• Licorice
• non-organic margarine
• non-organic fruit

Next to go: Tillamook Yogurt. Sorry Tillamook! My husband is going to hate me for this, but when you use at least 2 food colorings in one yogurt… You’re getting nixed.

When in doubt, I buy organic products. You can also look for labels that say no artificial colors or preservatives. My next mission—”banning” (meaning I will try to avoid but won’t totally deny) all toxic preservatives!

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