Did you know the FDA used to allow 80 different artificial dyes in food?1 Most of them came with a catch… Like red No. 2. That one caused cancer in mice.2 And the orange No. 1 in Halloween candy made children sick.3 Now these—and 71 others—are banned.
That means we’re down to seven. But how safe can they be if Big Food moguls—like General Mills—are removing them from their products?4
Here are 5 dangerous dyes the FDA still allows in your food.
1. Yellow No. 5. This chemical is most famous for giving Mountain Dew its weird neon glow.5 You may also see it on candy and drink labels as “E102” or “FD&C Yellow 5.” It’s one of the most widely used artificial dyes.6 And not just in foods… You’ll find it in medications and cosmetics, too. All this exposure to it could be shortening your attention span.
Studies show Yellow No. 5 causes hyperactivity in children.7 It could do the same to adults. So if you’re looking for a pick-me-up, skip the soda or candy. They could do more harm to your productivity than good.
2. Blue No. 1. You may recognize it as the color of blue raspberry-flavored candies and popsicles. Even some pre-workout drink mixes contain “brilliant blue.”8
Research on mice revealed Blue No. 1 causes kidney tumors.9 And some people are hypersensitive to it. This means it can cause immune reactions similar to severe allergies.10
3. Red No. 40. Thisis the most likely one to sneak into your food. You may see it listed as “Allura Red AC” or “FD&C Red. No. 40 Aluminum Lake.” It even shows up in foods that try to come off as healthy… Like Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Cereal Bars.
But don’t be fooled. This poison does it all. From immune-system tumors in mice to allergy-like reactions and hyperactivity in humans.11
4. Green No. 3. Next Saint Patrick’s Day, say “no” to green-tinted brews. And turn down any green cakes, cookies, and sprinkles the rest of the year. They most likely have loads of “FD&C Green No. 3” in them.
Your body can’t absorb food dye… So it hangs around in your gut. In response, your body may try to flush it out. The result? Diarrhea.12 And men, pay close attention to this one… Studies found Green No. 3 increased bladder and testes tumors in male rats.13
5. Blue No. 2. M&Ms aren’t the only place you’ll see Blue No. 2 on the label. They can make it into other products that use blue no.1. But you may want to check the tag on your jeans, too. There, it’s called “indigotine.”14 If they use it to color pants… Do you really think you should eat it? Of course not.
Eating this synthetic form of another dye, indigo, may have deadly consequences. One study found the more Blue No. 2 mice ate, the more likely they were to develop brain tumors.15
No matter how appealing you may think they look… Artificial colors have no business in your food. Their sole purpose is to make Big Food rich.
Be sure to avoid processed foods that are brightly colored. Replace these with organic fruits and vegetables. If you’re in doubt, check the label of any foods you buy for these dyes. That goes for any vitamins and supplements, too.
Where was the most surprising place you found these dyes? Let us know in the comments, below.
10Ibid, pg. V
13Bio/dynamics (1982a). “A long-term oral carcinogenicity study of FD&C Green #3 in rats.”
15Borzelleca, J. F., E. I. Goldenthal, et al. (1987a). “Evaluation of the potential teratogenicity of
FD&C Blue No. 2 in rats and rabbits.” Food and Chemical Toxicology 25(7): 495-7