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Common Food Dyes and Colors

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food dyes

Common Food Dyes and Colors

If you have kids, this is a big one.  Michael Jacobson, director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest is mostScreen Shot 2014-02-10 at 2.29.24 PM concerned about Red No. 40, Yellow No. 5 and Yellow No. 6, which make up 90 percent of the food dyes on the market. Food dyes are known to cause child hyperactivity and even ADHD. Though we’ve been using food dyes for years, use has gone up fivefold in the past 50 years. Food dyes are found in processed foods especially fruit snacks, candy, cookies, icing, sausage, and cereal.

Studies show that artificial colorings which are found in soda, fruit juices and salad dressings, may contribute to behavioral problems in children and lead to a significant reduction in IQ. Animal studies have linked other food colorings to cancer. Watch out for these ones:

Blue #1 and Blue #2 

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Blue #1 and Blue #2 artificial coloring: these colorings are often found in candy, petScreen Shot 2014-02-10 at 2.11.39 PM food, and baked goods that may have an impact on brain health. Studies and research are limited for this dye, but preliminary testing on male mice suggest a link to brain tumors.

Banned in Norway, Finland and France. May cause chromosomal damage

Found in: Candy, Cereal, Soft drinks, Sports drinks (Poweraide/Gatoraide)


Red dye # 3 (also Red #40 – a more current dye) 

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Banned in 1990 after 8 years of debate from use in many foods and cosmetics. This dye continues to be on the market.  Has been proven to cause thyroid cancer and chromosomal damage in laboratory animals, may also interfere with brain-nerve transmission.

Found in: Fruit cocktail, Maraschino cherries, Cherry pie mix, Ice cream, Licorice, Candy, Bakery products and more.

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Yellow #6  and Yellow Tartrazine Screen Shot 2014-02-10 at 2.23.12 PM

Banned in Norway and Sweden. Increases the number of kidney and adrenal gland tumors in laboratory animals, may cause chromosomal damage.

Found in: American cheese, macaroni and cheese, candy and carbonated beverages, lemonade and more.

The “cheesy” neon-orange color in most store-bought mac and cheese is a result of this dangerous dye made from coal tar, which is also used to seal-coat and preserve products like Screen Shot 2014-02-10 at 2.24.24 PMshiny industrial floors as well as to kill bugs in lice shampoo. Studies have linked artificial food coloring to allergies, ADHD, and cancer in animals, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Eat instead: Pick an organic brand, which means no added artificial colors, no dairy from cows treated with synthetic hormones, and no genetically modified ingredients.



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