If you don’t know the story of how Fooducate got started, it all began with a glow-in-the-dark yogurt. The ultra-bright ingredient that turned listless strawberry puree into an explosion of pink, was an artificial dye – Red #40. Implicated in neurological maladies, this petroleum based coloring should not be in food or beverages we buy for our family.
However, artificial colorings have found their way into many processed products – cereal, cookies, drinks, ice cream, yogurt, cheese, and salad dressings, to name a few. The only way to know if that cereal bar you are reaching for is artificially colored, is to attentively read the ingredient list and seek phrases such as Red #40, FD&C number 5, or Lake Blue 1. Not trivial.
This is why earlier this month, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) petitioned the FDA to require artificial coloring disclosure on the front of package, next to the product name:
Tropicana Twister Cherry Berry Blast has no cherry juice. Nor does it have any berry juice. Despite the pictures of cherries and berries on the label, this drink gets much of its dark red color from the controversial dye, Red 40. The Center for Science in the Public Interest says that’s deceptive. [CSPI is] urging the Food and Drug Administration to require food companies to disclose on the front of food labels whether a product is artificially colored. read more…
Here for example is the ingredient list for the Tropicana CHERRY BLAST product:
Filtered Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Apple and Grape Juice Concentrates, Citric Acid, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), and Red 40
The artificial coloring appears at the end. It would be much easier for a consumer to learn that the wonderfully strong color in the bottle comes from red #40, and not from the so called cherries. Did you see any cherries in the ingredient list?
(By the way, this drink is liquid sugar. A serving has 6.5 tsp of sugar in it! and for those of you who drink the entire bottle – which is what most people do – you’ll be ingesting a whopping 15.5 tsp of sugar!)
What to do at the supermarket:
Even if the FDA will heed CSPI’s request, good chances are that the food industry will threaten with a lawsuit or lobby sufficiently to get this suggestion off the table.
Therefore your best bet is to read the ingredient list and look for the artificial dye towards the end (only a tiny amount is required).
You can also use the free Fooducate mobile app – it always warns when a product has artificial colors.