Food dyes are frequently added to foods for purely aesthetic purposes: to add color to colorless foods, boost colors, recover color lost due to environmental factors, and to ensure consistency in variations of colors. Food manufacturers in the United States are allowed to use nine dyes approved by the FDA. Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 are used in 90% of dyed foods. They offer no nutritional value and could be linked to health issues.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) pleaded to ban artificial dyes because of their connection to behavioral problems. The CSPI report Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks concludes that the nine artificial dyes approved in the United States likely are carcinogenic, cause hypersensitivity reactions and behavioral problems, or have been inadequately tested. Of note, Red 40 and Yellow 5 are undergoing extra scrutiny for being particularly harmful. Food dyes are found in packaged and processed foods, so eating more real whole foods instead will simultaneously reduce your food dye intake. Eat nature’s colors instead!
By: Jenny Westerkamp