Wednesday, July 11, 2012

what are you putting in your body? { food dyes }

Without knowing too much of the specific science behind it we tend to avoid food dyes in our family. Olive has had very little thus far in her short life and I hope that, especially in her childhood, it says that way. Overall we easily avoid food dyes within our home because we eat very naturally. Very little to none of what I buy each week is processed or contains more than 5 ingredients and those that do, do not contain colors.

When I look through sources of inspiration for crafts, snacks, and meals I am blown away by the amount of "kid friendly" food that is so disgustingly bright colored. Maybe it's pretty? To me it just seems gross - food is not naturally BRIGHT blue. Yes, you can naturally find bright colors, but in terms of our food it's a little more rare. I'm also easily annoyed by artificially colored foods and treats because it's actually really easy to color things without them. Did you know that? People seem to think that kids need bright and exciting food in order to eat - think Lucky Charms or something of that sort. Fortunately a few companies that still seem to think that have at least sought out natural sources of color. But I wish we could just skip that whole trend all together. Kids don't NEED neon food. They just don't.

So, why do we avoid artificial food dyes?

Many food dyes have come and gone from availability in the US. Most of those that have disappeared are due to the harmful effects they have caused which were apparently not known at the time (sounds familiar, doesn't it?).

The current food dyes used in US are listed below along with their main uses, toxicity findings, and in what countries they are banned.

RED 3 - Candy, Desserts, Baked Goods - Thyroid tumors, Chromosomal damage
RED 40 - Beverages, Candy, Desserts, Pet Food - Lymphomas - Banned in European Economic Community
BLUE 1 - Beverage, Candy, Baked Goods - Chromosomal damage - Banned in France, Finland
BLUE 2 - Pet Foods, Candy, Beverages - Brain tumors - Banned in Norway
GREEN 3 - Beverages, Candy - Bladder tumors - Banned in European Economic Community
YELLOW 5 - Pet Food, Beverages, Baked Goods - Allergies, Thyroid tumors, Lymphocytic lymphomas, Chromosomal damage - Banned in Norway
YELLOW 6 - Beverages, Candy, Desserts, Sausage - Allergies, Kidney tumors, Chromosomal damage - Banned in Norway, Sweden

Blue 1 was not found to be toxic in key rat and mouse studies, but an unpublished
study suggested the possibility that Blue 1 caused kidney tumors in mice, and a
preliminary in vitro study raised questions about possible effects on nerve cells. Blue
1 may not cause cancer, but confirmatory studies should be conducted. The dye can
cause hypersensitivity reactions.
Blue 2 cannot be considered safe given the statistically significant incidence of tumors, particularly brain gliomas, in male rats. It should not be used in foods.
Citrus Red 2, which is permitted only for coloring the skins of oranges not used for
processing, is toxic to rodents at modest levels and caused tumors of the urinary bladder and possibly other organs. The dye poses minimal human risk, because it is only
used at minuscule levels and only on orange peels, but it still has no place in the food
Green 3 caused significant increases in bladder and testes tumors in male rats.
Though the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers it safe, this little-used dye
must remain suspect until further testing is conducted.
Orange B is approved for use only in sausage casings, but has not been used for
many years. Limited industry testing did not reveal any problems.
Red 3 was recognized in 1990 by the FDA as a thyroid carcinogen in animals and
is banned in cosmetics and externally applied drugs. All uses of Red 3 lakes (combinations of dyes and salts that are insoluble and used in low-moisture foods) are also
banned. However, the FDA still permits Red 3 in ingested drugs and foods, with
about 200,000 pounds of the dye being used annually. The FDA needs to revoke that
Red 40, the most-widely used dye, may accelerate the appearance of immune-system
tumors in mice. The dye causes hypersensitivity (allergy-like) reactions in a small
number of consumers and might trigger hyperactivity in children. Considering the
safety questions and its non-essentiality, Red 40 should be excluded from foods unless
and until new tests clearly demonstrate its safety.
Yellow 5 was not carcinogenic in rats, but was not adequately tested in mice. It may
be contaminated with several cancer-causing chemicals. In addition, Yellow 5 causes FOOD DYES
A Rainbow of Risks
sometimes-severe hypersensitivity reactions in a small number of people and might
trigger hyperactivity and other behavioral effects in children. Posing some risks, while
serving no nutritional or safety purpose, Yellow 5 should not be allowed in foods.
Yellow 6 caused adrenal tumors in animals, though that is disputed by industry and
the FDA. It may be contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals and occasionally
causes severe hypersensitivity reactions. Yellow 6 adds an unnecessary risk to the food

What are some natural means of coloring food? You want to make a trendy rainbow birthday cake... so how do you do it?

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