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Are you aware just how many food, drinks and medicines contain artificial red dye #40? Discover the potentially terrible red 40 side effects that may convince you to avoid the substance.
When you were a kid, did you eat junk food?
Pop Tarts, M&M’s, Fruit Roll-Ups, and lots of candy and breakfast cereals….
Then chances are you were consuming one of the most common food colorings, red #40.
A coloring agent, ‘red 40’ or ‘red dye 40’ causes negative side effects. Got kids? If so, do everything in your power to prevent them from eating foods with red 40.
If you eat natural foods, avoiding red 40 side effects won’t be a problem. However, very few people are able to stick to a 100% all natural diet.
And with hectic schedules, foods like cereal bars make for a convenient on the go breakfast. The problem is foods that might seem safe might contain red 40. Think of cherries that you would find floating on top of your cocktail.
And here’s why red 40 side effects are cause for concern. There is overwhelming peer-reviewed data concluding artificial food dyes are unhealthy.
In light of this, it’s against European Union law to use artificial food dyes like red 40. Remarkably, red 40 dye and other artificial food colorings remain legal in the United States. This, despite the fact there is solid evidence that links fake food coloring to behavioral problems such as ADHD.
In addition, certain food colorings may cause cancer.
There is a lot of pressure on the FDA to ban red dye 40. And other food colorings that are not natural. In fact, you can read the petition that The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) sent to the FDA here.
CSPI’s mission to inform the public of the dangers of artificial food dyes remains strong. This non-profit advocacy group also has a report, “Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks” available online here.
What are artificial food dye side effects?
The CSPI ‘Food Dyes Rainbow Risks’ report states there are nine artificial dyes in the food supply in the USA that are carcinogenic. And these dyes cause hyperactivity and behavior disorders such ADHD. The CSPI’s report argues that some of the food dyes have not been thoroughly tested to ensure the public’s safety
By far the most common dye is Red 40. According to CSPI, red 40 is the FDA-approved version of Allura Red. Allura Red was first produced by Allied Chemical Corp. Red 40 is in beverages, bakery goods, dessert powders, candies, cereals, foods, drugs, and cosmetics.
Also known as FD & C 40, red 40 contains a contaminant that may cause cancer. Furthermore, tests reveal a red dye side effect may possibly produce tumors in mice.
Red 40 Side Effects: Radioactive Mice!
In addition, there’s another alarming red 40 side effect. According to researchers, lab animals show significant retention of radioactivity in the guts after consuming red dye 40.
Not only that, red dye 40 is proven to cause DNA damage. Research shows a red 40 side effect in mice is genotoxicity in the stomach, lung and colon.
There are also human tests that reveal a red 40 side effect. One group of study participants with hives and skin swelling were showing no symptoms before consuming red 40. Skin breakouts were visible in about 15% of the participants.
In conclusion, the CSPI report acknowledges the following:
“There is evidence, albeit controversial and inconclusive, that Red 40, the most widely used dye, accelerates the appearance of tumors … in mice.”
And though the report authors admit study shortcomings, they nonetheless offer this caution.
“Red 40 should not be used in foods.”
What foods have artificial food dyes?
It doesn’t take a degree in nutrition to know that all-natural foods like fruits and vegetables are free of artificial food dyes. Furthermore, it’s not shocking that processed foods do contain food dyes. Many brand-name beverages contain artificial food dyes. For example, Lipton Ice Tea (sweetened) mix contains Red #40.
Unfortunately, many foods and beverages containing red 40 are alluring to children. Even conventionally-grown citrus fruits such as oranges contain dye. That’s in order to make them look brighter.
What’s the main concern with food dyes and kids?
The rates of hyperactivity disorder continue to soar. They are increasing by three percent every year, on average, since 1997.
One study of red dye #40 concludes it’s contaminated with cancer-causing benzidine. In addition, the same study links red #40 to hyperactivity disorders. A European study links food dyes and sodium benzoate to hyperactivity disorders.
Although it’s not a food dye, sodium benzoate is a preservative. It’s often in foods that have artificial food coloring.
Low-income children typically have higher rates of hyperactivity. Why? Because low-income families cannot afford healthy food. And some low-income families may not be educated about the link between processed foods and behavioral problems. In fact, according to the CDC, children ages 2-5 receiving Medicaid benefits were twice as likely to receive an ADD diagnosis.
Dr. Bernard Weiss is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Rochester, New York. His article, “Vulnerability of children and the developing brain to neurotoxic hazards,” is a must read if you want to know more about food dye. His article concludes the FDA does not see the link between artificial dyes and hyperactivity in children. This is because FDA claims well-controlled studies do not show evidence of it. However, there have been many publications showing some children respond adversely to food coloring. Dr. Weiss believes the FDA is disregarding these studies.
In other words, scientific proof exists that red 40 side effects are real. And other fake food colorings. Some of these side effects are:
- Learning disabilities and lowered IQ
- Antisocial behavior
What are the most common food dyes?
The most common artificial food colorings are Red #40, Yellow #5 and Yellow #6. The CSPI report says these three dyes comprise 90 percent of all artificial colorings in food. In addition, the report also states that food dye consumption continues to increase. In fact, five-fold since the mid-20th century.
This analysis of food dyes says the three dyes above all contain benzidine. Remember, benzidine causes cancer. In 1985, the FDA calculated that ingestion of free benzidine raises the cancer risk to just under the “concern” threshold (1 cancer in 1 million people). Though one cancer in one million might sound miniscule, the FDA’s review failed to account for bound molecules of benzidine.
Red 40 lake
If you see “Red dye 40 lake” on a label, what does ‘lake’ mean? It means it’s water soluble. Red 40 without “Lake” is in syrups or liquids. If non-lake dye runs that’s not a problem for the manufacturer. However, for prescription drugs and over-the-counter remedies that’s a different story. In this case, red dye 40 mixes with aluminum hydroxide to produce “lake.” Red 40 lake ensures that the coloring does not bleed off the pill. (‘Red 40 Aluminum Lake’ is another name for red 40 lake.)
What is red food dye made of?
A lipstick red cupcake might look appetizing. But not when learning why that cupcake is bright red.
The traditional way of making red dye: bugs.
That’s right, specifically cactus-sap eating cochineal insects. Red dye 40’s pigment is thanks to carminic acid. Carminic acid is crimson in color. The bugs use this pigment as a defense mechanism against other predators. Unbeknownst to the critters, the bugs are collected and smashed into a fine powder. The red hue appears when water mixes with the bugs.
Don’t like the idea of eating bugs? Then definitely ditch an offending food if you find any of the following three ingredients in the ingredients: carminic acid, carmine, cochineal extract.
However, you can’t always have your red cupcake and eat it, too. Consider that the traditional way of making red dye, that is, with bugs, is more natural than red dye 40. Red dye 40 is synthetic. The main ingredient in red 40 is petroleum.
Perhaps a little petroleum jelly on the lips is fine to prevent cracked lips on the ski slopes. But ingesting petroleum down the gullet just might lead to red 40 side effects.
Red 40 side effects: allergies
Cancer and behavior problems are huge concerns as it is. Some people also have red dye 40 allergy symptoms. Signs of red 40 allergic reaction include skin breakouts. Red 40 can produce eczema or hives. In addition, it can cause digestive upset. And that’s not all. It can boost your heart rate. Or, it could dangerously drop your blood pressure. In more serious cases, red 40 side effects produce fainting and dizziness.
Are natural alternatives to food dyes available to prevent red 40 side effects?
Many plant based food dyes are possible. In fact, many fruits and vegetables have natural coloring. These include pumpkin, carrots, turmeric, beets, strawberries, and blueberries.
Spirulina is another natural food coloring ingredient. As a matter of fact it can replace artificial FD&C Blue #1.
The hazards of artificial food coloring are becoming more well known. Perhaps more companies will voluntarily switch to natural food dyes.
Red 40 Side Effects: Conclusion
Does your child have a hyperactivity disorder? You may see improvements by eliminating all sources of food dyes. Consuming omega-3-rich foods or supplements may also decrease hyperactivity disorder behaviors.