Artificial Colors in Food — Something to “Dye” For

Artificial colors in food –something to “dye” for because they are carcinogens!  Artificial dyes are known cancer causing chemicals added to many foods to enhance the looks of the food and increase sales.  Artificial colors do not enhance the foods nutritionally at all – they are added to increase sales only.  Then why do you ask, when cancer rates are sky-rocketing, is a known carcinogen allowed in the food supply without a known health-related benefit?  Food is our body’s fuel to live on right?   Shouldn’t the food we eat be pro-health?

Food dyes are also related to other health problems like hyperactivity, behavior problems, headaches, rashes, allergic reactions, bladder irritation, sleep problems, and attention difficulty.  Again, why is something in our food that is known to cause problems and has no benefit except for the food company’s bottom line?

In the 1900’s a petroleum product called aniline was used to make artificial colorings.  These chemically synthesized colors are what’s used in our food supply today – that’s right a petroleum product is in our food supply!   Before the 1900’s natural food sources (like saffron, beets, paprika) were used to make foods look nicer and more appealing.  However, it’s cheaper to produce the colors synthetically using petroleum products, so that’s what the food industry uses.  In the U.S. artificial colors are widely used.  Other countries banned them and require food companies to use natural food sources.

Below is a list of natural food dyes being commercially produced.

  • ·         Annatto (E160b)  comes from the seed of the achiote  it’s a red-orange color
  • ·         Betanin (E162) from beets
  • ·         Chlorophyllin (E140) comes from chlorella algae and is green of course!
  • ·         Paprika (E160c)
  • ·         Tumeric (E100)
  • ·         Saffron (E160a)


To purchase natural food dyes click here.  For specific ideas on using real food for dyes in baking and decorating see website  or click here to follow a link to her page with fun, colorful party ideas.


On a food label you’ll want to look at the ingredients list and AVOID the following: 


According to a publication by the Center for Science in the Public Interest dated 6/29/10:


The three most widely used dyes, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6, are contaminated

with known carcinogens, says CSPI. Another dye, Red 3, has been acknowledged for

years by the Food and Drug Administration to be a carcinogen, yet is still in the food

supply.  Despite those concerns, each year manufacturers pour about 15 million pounds

of eight synthetic dyes into our foods. Per capita consumption of dyes has increased five-

fold since 1955, thanks in part to the proliferation of brightly colored breakfast cereals,

fruit drinks, and candies pitched to children.


The medical journal  The Lancet  in 2007 published a conclusion that “artificial colours or a sodium benzoate preservative (or both) in the diet result in increased hyperactivity in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the general population”.  This was a carefully designed, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.


Artificial colors in food –something to “dye” for because they are carcinogens!  Read labels and keep them out of your family’s food. 

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