Many processed foods have various dyes added to their formulas in order to change the color of the finished product. This is especially true of children’s cereals, candies, energy bars, and sprinkles. Everyone can see that.
What most don’t recognize are the foods with less obvious dyes: pickles, chips, frosting mixes, soft drinks, macaroni and cheese, and many brands of yogurt. In addition, most prescription and over-the-counter medicines contain one or more food dyes. (For tips on buying safer food, read my special report "How to Avoid Poisonous Foods.")
Food dyes are categorized as either natural or artificial. Natural dyes are made from extracts of colorful plant components, such as anthocyanidin from grapes, curcumin from turmeric, lycopene, and beta carotene. These dyes are often healthy, but are used less often because they are expensive.
The artificial dyes are extracts from compounds that were originally extracted from coal tar and petroleum products.
According to the FDA, food colorings are important because they make the food look healthier. This sounds more like a justification of deception, as it allows food processors to hide damaged or diseased products.
The FDA uses the code FD&C plus a number to indicate that the dye has been approved. There are seven main approved food colorings:
• FD&C Blue No. 1
• FD&C Blue No. 2
• FD&C Green No. 2024
• FD&C Red No. 40
• FD&C Red No. 3
• FD&C Yellow No. 5
• FD&C Yellow No. 6
A review of currently approved dyes raised several health concerns.
For example, Red No. 3 causes cancer in animals. Red No. 40, Yellow No. 5, and Yellow No. 6 have been found to be contaminated with benzidine or other carcinogens. Blue No. 1, Red No. 40, Yellow No. 5, and Yellow No. 6 cause hypersensitivity reactions. Yellow No. 5 damages DNA.
Tumor transformation studies have shown that Blue No. 2, Green No. 2024, and Red No. 4 increased tumor incidence and death rate in exposed hamsters. Yellow No. 6 and Yellow No. 5 have been found to act like estrogen. Blue No. 1 was shown to alter the behavior of mice.
The link between food dyes and hyperactivity in children is inconclusive, but for certain dyes, such as Yellow No. 5, the evidence is strong — even for very small concentrations. For more information on food additives and the damage they can cause to your body, read my newsletter "Food Additives: What You Eat Can Kill You."
As with most toxic substances, testing is usually done in perfectly healthy animals or people, and the dye in question is tested alone. Foods contain multiple dyes and well as other toxic additives; when mixed, one often sees a magnification effect on toxicity.
In addition, a great number of people with chronic illness, chronic inflammation, aging effects, and who are eating an antioxidant-deficient diet are also eating these dye-contaminated foods on a daily basis.
Your main protection is to avoid all food dyes. Eating only fresh, organically grown foods can accomplish this. If you decide to eat a processed food, check the label and look for the dyes listed above.
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