People have been using artificial color additives to make food and beverages more appealing for years, but how safe is this practice?
Artificial dyes and lake colors are derived from synthetic material; unnatural sources. The safety of artificial colors has been questioned since 1906, when the FDA passed the Pure Food and Drugs Act. Many color additives that were once used in food and/or cosmetic products have been banned after being declared unsafe by the FDA. Many of the additives used today have been linked to adverse health effects, especially for those sensitive to certain chemicals.
Artificial dyes (Red #40, for example) are water-soluble, meaning they fade more easily. Lake colors (Red #40 Lake, for example) are insoluble, meaning that they are more stable and less likely to fade. Neither are more fit for human consumption than the other.
Here are some commonly found dyes and their effects:
Red #40– One of the most commonly used color additives in America, Red #40 has been linked to ADHD and hyperactivity in children. It can be found in red juices like Hi-C and Hawaiian Punch, and in red snacks like Doritos and certain flavors of Jello.
Yellow #5– Also known as tartrazine, Yellow #5 has also been linked to hyperactivity in children. It has also been linked to cases of anxiety, depression and fatigue in those especially sensitive to it. It can be found in brighter foods and drinks including Mountain Dew, Kraft Mac and Cheese, and Cheetos.
Blue #2– While experts disagree on the safety of Blue #2, studies published by the CSPI link the substance to brain cancer in male rats. It can be found in blue beverages such as some flavors of Gatorade and Hi-C, and also in blue candies like M&M’s and Skittles.
Caramel Color– There are four types of caramel color additives, one of which contains a compound called 4-MEI that is known to cause cancer. This type of caramel color was found in Coca-Cola and Pepsi until recently. The labeling on most foods and beverages does not specify which type of caramel color it contains.
To maintain a clean diet, you should avoid artificial colors. They provide no nutritional value and the health risks surrounding them are not worth the visual appeal.