Those bright and friendly colors that bring joy to your child as she slurps down a drinkable yogurt or mixes Froot Loops with some milk are actually dangerous poisons. Or at least have the potential to wreak various forms of damage to your child – starting from neurological issues and all the way to cancer. These accusations, in yesterday’s press release and research report from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a non-profit consumer watchdog organization.
Blue 1, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 have long been known to cause allergic reactions in some people. CSPI says that while those reactions are not common, they can be serious and provide reason enough to ban those dyes. Furthermore, numerous studies have demonstrated that dyes cause hyperactivity in children.
Tests on lab animals of Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 showed signs of causing cancer …
Yellow 5 also caused mutations, an indication of possible carcinogenicity, in six of 11 tests…
In addition, according to the report, FDA tests show that the three most-widely used dyes, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6, are tainted with low levels of cancer-causing compounds, including benzidine and 4-aminobiphenyl in Yellow 5.
What you need to know:
Once upon a time, there were no food colorings. Then folks figured out that food looks better and sells more when it can be enlivened through dyes. For most of food history, the dyes were from natural sources – beet juice for red, turmeric for yellow,etc..
However, in the quest to maximize profit by lowering costs, artificial (and much cheaper) dyes were introduced to market.
Now if the artificial colors were only in candy, parents could worry a bit less. The problem is that the dyes have found their way into so many foods that the levels ingested every day have skyrocketed in recent decades.
Why did the FDA approved these artificial colorings? Because the risk has not been proven sufficiently. In other countries, additives are approved only after safety HAS BEEN proven. Innocent until proven guilty is the US approach to crime, but in the case of dangerous chemicals, shouldn’t we take more precaution and assume guilty until proven innocent?
In Europe, federal agencies have been pressuring the food industry to phase out some of the artificial colors. One example is by requiring warning notices on foods with artificial dyes. Can you imagine Twinkies with a warning label “contains Red #40 and Yellow #5. May cause cancer”?
Don’t hold your breath.
What to do at the supermarket:
In the meantime, scan ingredient lists of cereals, yogurts, cakes, snacks, soups, meats, and virtually any processed product for the colorings in the image above. If you see them, move on to an alternative product. If a product is too bright and colorful, and it’s not a fresh fruit or veggie, be suspicious.