Which foods contain artificial dyes and colourants?
Artificial food dyes and colourants are everywhere. There are seven main artifiical food dye colours that appear in many of the foods we consume on a daily basis. Each dye has a different use and could potentially lead to different health issues along the way.
- Blue Dye #1 - Also referred to as Brilliant Blue or Blue 1, this artificial food colourant is often found in baked goods such as cakes, cupcakes and cake pops to give them a bright colouring. Ice creams, canned peas, popsicles, and icing sugar often contain this too. You'll also find this food dye in many drinks, desert powders, and cereal. If you or your child are a fan of blue candy, you'll probably find Blue #1 in the ingredients. Many drugs also contain this colourant to give them a bright blue hue.
- Blue #2 – Royal blue or indigo in colour, this dye is also known as Indigotin and Indigo Carmine and it is the only artificial food dye that does not have a petroleum base. Blue No. 2 is also often found in bright beverages such as sports drinks or energy drinks. Candy, pet food, and many drugs contain this popular artificial colourant.
- Citrus Red #2 - While this Citrus Red No. 2 has been found to increase instances of bladder cancer and tumours in rats and mice5, it can still be found in low levels in the skins of Florida oranges which are dyed to give them their vibrant hue. It is not used as commonly as other dyes anymore.
- Green #3 - The 'Fast Green FCF' dye, also known as 'Food green' is sea green or turquoise in colour, is one that may affect even those who tend to steer clear of sweets and bright treats. Found in many cosmetic products, drugs, lipsticks, and body creams, this dye has a widespread reach. It can also be found in certain ice creams, beverages, and candies as well as processed vegetables, canned peas and even fish.
- Red Dye #3 (Erythrosine) - If you love the sticky sweetness of maraschino cherries, there's a good chance you've ingested this cherry pink food dye. Found in many cakes and candies, the Red No. 3 dye is used to give maraschino cherries their signature ruby red colouring. Sausage casings, canned fruit and many oral medications are also known to contain this dye.
- Red #40 - Allura Red (which is orange red in colour), as this particular dye is also known, is one of the most commonly used and consumed food dyes on the market. It has been singled out as one of the main culprits in triggering hyperactive behaviour in children with a large number of studies looking into this particular case. Found in a number of well-known foods including cheese-flavoured potato chips, cereals, candies, beverages, barbecue sauces, fruit bars, and even ice tea, this food dye is everywhere.
- Yellow Dye #5 - Another food dye that has been blamed for causing a number of hypersensitivity reactions (i.e. allergies), Yellow No. 5 (or Tartrazine) has been added to foods around the world for many years. Baked goods, pet food, candies, cereals, desserts, powdered drinks, and cosmetics all contain this particular food colourant. Lemon yellow in colour, this dye is a popular additive to many foods and even cosmetics and medications.
- Yellow #6 - Also known as Sunset Yellow and more orange in colour then it's Yellow #5 counterpart, this is the last of the well-known food colourants found in different foods, cosmetics and drugs. Cereals, beverages, candies, jellies, sausages, cosmetics, and drugs have all be found to contain this food dye.
It's almost guaranteed that those living in Western society have ingested any, if not all, of these dyes and colourants at least once in their lifetime.
According to a diet and nutrition study from 20102, three of these dyes (Red #40, Yellow #5, and Yellow #6) make up at least 90% of all dyes used in food in the United States.
2. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. Potera, Carol. October 2010. DIET AND NUTRITION: The Artificial Food Dye Blues: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2957945/ [Accessed: 24.06.2018]
5. Maga, Joseph & Tu, Anthony T. 1994. Food Additive Toxicology: https://books.google.co.za/books?id=6mGmxYqqiREC&pg=PA194&dq=citrus+red+2+toxicity+in+rats&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjyx93wh_HbAhWiCcAKHXoBBVgQ6AEIJjAA#v=onepage&q=citrus%20red
%202%20toxicity%20in%20rats&f=false [Accessed: 25.06.2018]
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