Food dyes are one of the most widely used and dangerous additives. While the European Union has recently placed regulations on labeling food dyes to inform consumers of the health risks (in the same way tobacco products carry a hazardous to your health claim), the United States has no such requirement.
Here are some of the most common food dyes used today, according to the Food Freedom Network:
- Blue #1 (Brilliant Blue)
An unpublished study suggested the possibility that Blue 1 caused kidney tumors in mice. What it’s in: Baked goods, beverages, desert powders, candies, cereal, drugs, and other products.
- Blue #2 (Indigo Carmine)
Causes a statistically significant incidence of tumors, particularly brain gliomas, in male rats. What it’s in: Colored beverages, candies, pet food, & other food
- Citrus Red #2
It’s toxic to rodents at modest levels and caused tumors of the urinary bladder and
possibly other organs. What it’s in: Skins of store bought Florida oranges.
- Green #3 (Fast Green)
Caused significant increases in bladder and testes tumors in male rats. What it’s in: Drugs, personal care products, cosmetic products except in eye area, candies, beverages, ice cream, sorbet, ingested drugs, lipsticks, and externally applied cosmetics.
- Red #3 (Erythrosine)
Recognized in 1990 by the FDA as a thyroid carcinogen in animals and is banned in cosmetics and externally applied drugs. What it’s in: Sausage casings, oral medication, maraschino cherries, baked goods, and candies.
- Red #40 (Allura Red)
This is the most-widely used and consumed dye. It may accelerate the appearance of immune system tumors in mice. It also causes hypersensitivity (allergy-like) reactions in some consumers and might trigger hyperactivity in children. What it’s in: Beverages, bakery goods, dessert powders, cereals, candies, foods, drugs, and cosmetics.
- Yellow #5 (Tartrazine)
Causes sometimes-severe hypersensitivity reactions and might trigger hyperactivity and other behavioral effects in children. What it’s in: Pet foods, numerous bakery goods, beverages, dessert powders, candies, cereals, gelatin desserts, and many other foods, as well as pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.
- Yellow #6 (Sunset Yellow)
Caused adrenal tumors in animals and occasionally causes severe hypersensitivity reactions. What it’s in: Color bakery goods, cereals, beverages, dessert powders, candies, gelatin deserts, sausage, cosmetics, and drugs.
Sources and References
Center for Science in the Public Interest “Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks”
British Food Standards Agency, Food Additives and Hyperactivity