Food coloring

One of the most hidden dangers in our foods are food dyes.  Who would think that an addition of a little color could do so much harm?  Unfortunately, more and more research has come out about how harmful they are and especially to our children who are growing at an exponential rate at this time in their lives. Citrus Red 2, Red 3, Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 1, Blue 2 and Green 3, –which include some of the most commonly used artificial food colorings–have all been identified as being, or being contaminated with, potential cancer-causing chemicals, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest. And Blue 1, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 are known to trigger reactions in those with allergies.

Did you know that food dyes in Europe require a warning label stating that “consumption may have an adverse affect on activity and attention in children”?  The FDA has yet to admit that food coloring has been linked to hyperactivity it children, but the research is finding otherwise.  Furthermore, according to the FDA, Yellow No. 5 can cause an allergic reaction for one out of every 10,000 people. The amount of dye the FDA has deemed acceptable for daily intake, or ADI, is five milligrams per kilogram of body weight per day (mg/kg bw/day) for Yellow No. 5 and 3.75 mg/kg bw/day for Yellow No. 6. An April 2015 study looked at how much dye was in recommended servings of processed foods; it found Kraft Macaroni & Cheese contained 17.6 milligrams of Yellow Nos. 5 or 6 per one-cup serving. Because the chemicals are so similar in color, and thus difficult to tell apart in measurements, the researchers chose the dye that allowed the highest concentration. For a child weighing 30 kilograms (about 65 pounds), this translates to 0.59 mg/kg bw per serving.

So what do you do?  Start to get better at reading your foods labels, and whenever available opt for the more natural option.  One example, instead of buying craft macaroni and cheese or Earth’s Best brand both of which has yellow #5 and #6, choose Annie’s brand which uses real cheese AND no food coloring.  Another thing you can do is stay away from the processed foods, and stick to the outsides of the super market.  Remember you are what you eat.
When baking at home you can make your own food coloring with natural ingredients that are found in your pantry or fridge.  The list below gives you some options for each color:
  • Red – pure beet juice, pure pomegranate juice, beet powder
  • Orange-pure carrot juice, paprika
  • Yellow – ground turmeric, saffron
  • Green – spinach powder, matcha powder, parsley juice, liquid chlorophyll
  • Blue –  red cabbage or any of the purple colorants listed below plus baking soda
  • Purple – pure blueberry juice
Here is a great site that gives you recipes on how to make your own food coloring:

Don’t have time to make your own food coloring, but would like to use something more natural?  You can find some on amazon, but remember natural food dyes do not use petroleum as a preservative so natural food dyes will not be a vibrant as the store bought brands.

Want to learn more, visit these sites below to find out more about the hidden dangers of food coloring:

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