Artificial food coloring is evil.

A magnet with this phrase hangs on my refrigerator; and it’s also stated on my cooking apron. As I pondered on how to approach this subject, I remember back to the days when I never read a food label or candy (no, it’s not food) label.  Ignorance sure was bliss…but was it? My kids would get impulsive, oppositional, hyper, spin around, lack focus, and make non-stop sounds before the “food label police” showed up at our house.  So I guess it wasn’t really bliss after all. I traded those behaviors for the inconvenience of having to read every single label on every single food item I bought or was given to my kids. But the trade-off was worth it!

My kids became calmer, quieter and not so emotionally charged. Melt downs decreased. Sleep habits improved. And above all, I knew that I was improving the health of my children, which is a good thing.

Yes, I do have to tell my kids NO to certain requests for food or candy their friends are eating, and at parties, or that dreaded artificial food colors and flavors/high fructose corn syrup holiday we celebrate, Halloween.  Or I pay the price of crazy behavior if I cave in and “let them eat colorful cake”. So I got resourceful or creative, however you view it. I taught my oldest son (he was eight-years-old at the time) to read food labels and explained what additives are bad for our bodies. He actually learned to read the label before he asked if we could buy something.  And I’d bite my lower lip whenever he picked up something I knew would have artificial ingredients in it and say “Shoot!” as he came across some artificial preservatives, colors or flavors. I let my kids trick-or-treat on Halloween. It’s one of their favorite holidays.  They get to choose one piece of candy to eat and then we trade the bag for a new toy (Legos at my house).  I buy candy treats that don’t have artificial ingredients. It definitely tastes better.

If you are not already familiar with the numbers you see on food labels, here are the most common: FD&C Blue Nos. 1 and 2, FD&C Green No. 3, FD&C Red No. 3, FD&C Yellow Nos. 5 and 6, Citrus Red No. 2.  And that lovely, ubiquitous Red No. 40 that can trigger such ugly behaviors in most kids. Red 40 is used in many food products including Kool-Aid, orange and other flavored sodas, Cheetos and Doritos chips (and the ever popular Flamin’ Hot Cheetos), strawberry Pop-Tarts, any candy with red coloring to it including M&M’s, Skittles, many chewing gums, etc. Also many children’s vitamins and pain relievers/cold medicine have red 40 in the ingredients. Why? Because if it’s colorful, our kids will want to eat it or take the medicine.

How many asthma sufferers are told by their allergists to avoid FD&C Yellow No. 5 (tartrazine)? There is a reason that food and medicine labels must declare that ingredient. This is an extended version of the ingredient declaration:  “This product contains FD&C Yellow No. 5 (tartrazine) which may cause allergic-type reactions (including bronchial asthma) in certain susceptible persons.”

Here is the biggest reason I think artificial (synthetic) food coloring is evil. Petroleum. Yes, most synthetic food dyes are created from petroleum.  The same base used to manufacture gasoline and heating fuels.  And if that’s not enough to make you spit out that Skittle, FD&C Blue No. 2 is manufactured in a chemical process that includes formaldehyde, aniline, several hydrozides under ammonia pressure, and heating in the presences of sulfuric acid. Oh, don’t worry, each batch is tested to ensure it doesn’t exceed the FDA’s prescribed limits for impurities. Most impurities are in the forms of salts or acids, but others include lead, arsenic and mercury. Yikes!

I’m sure you are asking yourself  “Why are these food dyes so common in our processed food supply? Why does the FDA allow it?” Well, that’s a topic for another blog.   The U.S. FDA hasn’t studied the effects of synthetic dyes on behavior in children. Another country did though. A randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial was conducted at Southampton University in England. They found a link to food dyes and hyperactive behavior in children. The research does not prove that food colorings actually cause ADHD behaviors but there does seem to be a link. The results were published in The Lancet medical journal in September of 2007.  The results of the study was a story in Time magazine.,9171,1661703,00.html

Since this study, the U.K. banned artificial food dyes in 2008 and demand manufacturers use natural ones. U.S. companies use natural products in the U.K., while continuing to use artificial dyes in the products sold in the U.S.  Here’s something to chew on:

  • Aunt Jemima Blueberry Waffles contains no blueberries. The blue “bits” are Red 40 and Blue 2.
  • McDonald’s strawberry sauce, well it’s actually “McRed40” sauce. (The U.K. gets real strawberries)
  • Kellogg’s Frosted Mini Wheats Blueberry Muffin has no real blueberries. Their “blueberry crunchies” are made with corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, artificial flavors and the colorful combo of Blue 2 and Red 40.
  • Kraft’s Guacamole Dip doesn’t get its greenish color from actual avocados. It gets it from the dye combo of Yellow 5 & 6 and Blue 1.
  • U.K. M&M’s and Skittles have natural food dyes in them. The ones with the bright colors made with artificial dyes are sold in the U.S.  Ours are prettier and brighter because natural dyes don’t have that artificial bright pigment you can obtain with a petro base. Don’t you feel special? Thanks to our FDA!

There are alternatives to foods and candy without dyes. And a great source is the Feingold Association. They have a shopping list of foods without these dyes listed by category and manufacturer.  Their website is

33 Responses

  1. This is great, I totally agree with you. Hope you don’t mind that I posted a link to your post on my website.

  2. Great article! Well put!

  3. […] fructose and artificial colors.  It will make you think twice about what sweets your kids eat.… Posted in Nutritional Info, Take Care […]

  4. Interesting information. I did not know about the blueberries in waffles. If people would bother to taste the all natural products they would also find they taste so much fresher. I posted a link to my blog and social media!

  5. I’ve been trying to switch our food over to natural and then I give my son a dose of cough syrup and find out there are dyes, preservatives and all kinds of other junk. Didn’t realize “they” put all that stuff in meds. Anyone know of cold meds. that I can give that doesn’t have all that stuff in them.

    • I use a natural Honey Cough syrup by Hyland’s and they have a decongestant one too. Package has a bear on it. Only drawback is it has sodium benzoate, a yucky preservative. But no artificial colors or flavors. For a plain decongestant, I use a Sudafed tablet. I wash the red dye off it and my kids can swallow pills. They are the age and weight for the adult dose of Sudafed now.

      • Becareful with Sudafed! It causes alot of behavioral problems in kids! My son becomes a nasty little monster if he has it, so I no longer give him it at all.

      • It could be the red dye on the outer coating. As I noted above, I always wash it off first before giving it to my kids or taking it myself. It’s unnecessary and the red dye #40 causes the behavioral problems. It doesn’t taste so good, but my sons are old enough to drink it down with lots of water or juice if needed.

  6. O,K. I see it dosn’t appear, that’s that question answered …..
    Well, hi folks!
    Our son would just go really “hyper” if subjected to anything with artifical food colour in it.
    So we started label reading, and we also started asking companies to remove these terrible petroleum based dyes from their products !
    Some companies now have labels saying:
    “no artifical colour” but only a few.
    Be careful of anything that contains the preservative “Sodium Benzoate” too!
    This had the same effect as the dyes on our son.
    You can buy medicine now that does NOT contain these terrible chemicals , but you have to shop around.
    Removing food colour and sodium benzoate from our son’s diet had a wonderful effect on him.
    He was calm , smart, attentive, and just wonderful!!!
    Start reading labels it’s worth the effort.

  7. I can guess the hard work it must have been required to research for this post.All what i can say is just keep providing such post we all love it.And just to bring something to your notice,I have seen several blog providng your blog as source for this information.

  8. Thank you, we had a lot of information to browse through all the links although there are a couple which don’t work anymore!!!

    Great job! It helps a lot. Thanks.

    That is great post about Artificial food coloring is evil.. It is really a helpful information. Keep up the good work…

  9. Thank you so much for this! I hope that it’s okay that I take this and post it on my blog. I will link back to you of course!

    I’ve been limiting my son’s food dye for some time and people think I’m crazy for it…”kid’s should have candy’ is what I get.

    Well after today, it’s not happening anymore! My son (age 3.5) won a gardening contest and got a LARGE colorful lolipop. Which I didn’t not want him to have. But what was I to do. He won a contest. So we cracked it up with a hammer…yet hammer, it was that big. And let him have a few pieces. Not much really, about 1 normal pop size.

    Well I’ve paid for it today! Including fighting with my son just to get in to get in his car seat in the van, all with people watching. His poor music teacher this morning paid for it when he wouldn’t sit at all for class and got the other child going too.

    I’m not paying anymore!

    What can we do to fight this!! I need to move to the UK!!

  10. Thank you for posting this information.I have a 5yr old in kindergarten this year and I’m fixing to have to start removing all dyes and artificial flavors because the school is having trouble with her.I haven’t been able to give her any cold medicine before school because everything on the store shelf has dyes and antihistamine in it.

  11. […] if these artificial dyes are really so healthy for us. I further delved into the subject and found this Mother’s blog on the topic. She talks a bit about the effect yellow number 5, which can have a negative effect on […]

    • I created that magnet in response to one son’s difficult years of stomache trouble which Feingold took care of. We also discovered after our family had a very red colored valentines day full of red dye overload, just how awful those colorings make us feel. Don’t believe me? drink lots of red punch and see how you feel the next day.

  12. Tylenol makes a dye-free Childrens cold medicine. It’s tough to find but it does exist!

  13. I have started a new group on Facebook for anyone dealing with children that may have ADD, ADHD, Autism, Anxiety and Bipolar issues. We have found an incredible link in our own child and his reaction to artificial food color. The turnaround is truly amazing. There is growing evidence that petroleum based artificial food coloring is affecting our children at an unprecedented rate. 10 years ago every 1 in 10,000 children were diagnosed with some sort of medical condition in this the ADD, ADHD, Autistic and Bipolar spectrum. Today it is 1 in every 154 children. I ask what has changed. Most people do not want t think outside the box on this stuff and feel that the FDA is working in our best interest. The fact is they are not. It is a business just like any other. The FDA is paid by the manufacturers for every milligram of chemicals added to our food. I invite you to join my group and weigh in on this issue.
    Please follow this link to my group and request to join.!/home.php?sk=group_212701462084640&ap=1
    Please forward to anyone you know who may be interested. This group is open to all.

  14. […] conscious in my household when it comes to taking in over-processed foods, synthesized chemicals, food dyes, and inhumane treatment of animals, but we really haven’t hit on veggies and fruits being our […]

  15. Great article! I have shared it on facebook in hope others may get the message. My greatest delight in finding alternatives was with whole foods chocolate gems – which satisfies the m&m cravings AND adds 40-70% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin A – presumably from the vegetable dyes. Now that is a GEM!

  16. what a wonderful info

  17. So glad you shared this Lauren. I now know more details about something you know I feel strongly about!!!

  18. We got rid of the food dye in my sons diet (Red 40 = beyond evil) and he is a different child. The dye gives the food no nutritional value so there is NO NEED for it.

  19. […] How many asthma sufferers are told by their allergists to avoid FD&C Yellow No. 5 (tartrazine)? There is a reason that food and medicine labels must declare that ingredient….continue reading… […]

  20. I have asperger’s syndrome (diagnosed late, as an adult, after a severe “meltdown” in University). Turns out one of the main culprits was M&M’s which I scoffed a great amount of in Grad School as a quick “pick me up”. It exacerbates my autism. Still learning a lot about which foods changes my behaviour!

    Red 40 == severe autistic flare in my case.

    Good to know that I’m not the only one! Feel less of a freak that way.

    • Children and adults on and off the spectrum experience bad reactions form Red#40…it’s a bad one! You should steer clear of all artificial colors, flavors and ingredients. Try to eat a whole foods diet, not processed. You’ll feel so much better!

  21. Reblogged this on midnightsunshinephotography and commented:
    Wow! I mostly shop the outside aisles at the grocery store but here’s added incentive.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: