Can Food Dye Make You Sick?
A good indication that certain food additives are bad for your health is to see the same food additives banned in other countries, and artificial food dyes are no exception. Banned in Austria, Finland, France, Norway and the United Kingdom, artificial food dyes are abundant in processed foods throughout the United States, particularly foods marketed towards young children such as bright colored cereal, fruit flavored snacks, fruit flavored beverages and even things like mac n’ cheese.
That is not to say that these food products are unhealthy-there are usually all natural and even organic brand options for many of these same foods, ensuring that you and your children can still eat cereal and mac n’ cheese without being exposed to potentially harmful food dyes. However, the major brands such as General Mills, Coca-Cola and others tend to use artificial food dyes in many of their products. It makes sense from a marketing perspective. Most children would rather eat bright colored cereals than brown and beige or a bright colored fruit drink than the washed-out colors fruit juices become after they are pasteurized and sit on a shelf.
However, there are even natural ways to color foods such as with beet and carrot concentrates that companies could use if they insist that food should look different than what nature intended. Granted, these options are more costly to use than the chemical products, and they still won’t give the vibrant neon-like colors that food dyes provide. For the sake of good health, more expense and less vibrant colors seems like a very small price to pay.
Some of the health risks that have been linked to the use of artificial food dyes include hyperactivity in children (ADHD symptoms), damage to the nervous system and childhood development issues. So, some may naturally wonder why certain food dyes are still permitted in the United States while being banned in other countries, and the reason most widely given is that there are conflicting results among scientific studies as to the direct link between food dyes and the potential harms attributed to its use. So if banning the ingredients isn’t an option, certain watchdog groups are pushing for warning labels to be used on foods to answer this concern. Still, yet another group, the International Food Info Council (IFIC), is concerned that placing such a label on foods could cause unnecessary public alarm among those who have been safely consuming these food ingredients for years.
Meanwhile, the easiest way for the public to deal with all of the confusion surrounding artificial food dyes is to seek out foods that don’t contain these ingredients. Look for terms such as “all natural,” no artificial colorings,” “organic,” etc. At least we are armed with choices to make the best decisions for our health and our families.