The food industry uses colors in foods for many different reasons. Many big name companies use the cheaper alternative to color their foods. Dyes and Lakes are a cheap alternative to color food, but many are now being questioned because of their effects on our health. Current research is starting to show the connection between dyes and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder). Europe has already taken steps to outlaw some dyes and make companies provide warnings on others. The chemical dyes that are in our foods, like Red 40 and Yellow 5, should be outlawed from drinks and foods here in the United States.
When our second child was a toddler we would notice that she kept breaking out into hives. These blisters would get really bad and cause her a lot of pain. We tried removing a lot of different foods from her diet in order to find out the cause of this reaction. One day my daughter was having some red Jell-O. While eating this she violently threw up and broke out in blisters from her fingers all the way up to her shoulders. It was at that time we realized that red dye was the culprit. Once we removed the dye from her food she no longer had problems with breakouts. Each time she gets a break out, we are able to trace it back to red dye.
In 2008, the U.K. banned the use of food dyes and in turn companies have been forced to find natural ways of coloring products. The six main dyes that were banned were, Yellow #5, Yellow #6, three types of Red 40, and Ponceau[i]. “The UK Foods Standards Agency has called for the ban on the use of six food colorings in preparation of ingestible products such as foods and drinks since they have been associated with promoting hyperactivity in children[ii].
The FDA feels that there is no connection between dyes and ADHD. They have said that studies in the past have not been able to tie the two together. While research has been deemed to be to inconclusive, recent research has shown why this has been overlooked. Tests that were done in the past were done with levels that researchers felt would be the maximum amount a child would be able to ingest in a day. “Tests, conducted in the ‘70s and ‘80s, used a baseline of 27 [mg] of mixed dyes. Tests were also done to observe the effects of children on higher doses of dyes, around 50 to 100 mg. They found conclusive links between consuming these high levels and behavior problems.”[iii] To give you an idea of how much dye kids ingest today, an 8oz of Burst Cherry Kool-aid contains 54mg.
There have been recently performed studies that show the effects of Yellow #6 and Yellow #5 that have shown a negative effect on children. In a recent study conducted by British researchers, they produced a “randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.”[iv] In these studies there have been a big connection made from the effects yellow dye has on a child. This test also took into consideration the amount of dye a child could consume in a normal day.
“The children consumed foods and drinks free of six coloring agents and sodium benzoate, a common preservative. Every two weeks, the children were given a special drink that contained enough dye found in two bags of candy. The researchers and their parents found a significant increase in hyperactivity in the children during the weeks that they consumed the drink with the artificial colors. This research correlates with an analysis of different studies done at Columbia University and Harvard University.”[v]
In 2011, the FDA finally acknowledge that there has been some connection between dyes in our foods (and other ingredients) to cause behavioral issues in some children. Why is it the FDA refuses to crack down harder on dyes in our products that we consume? There is a lot of speculation out there, from money to political power, we may never know.
The best thing we can do as parents is taking action to protect our kids and ourselves. There are studies that out there now that show how much dyes we actually eat in certain foods. These amounts add up to us normally putting in our bodies over 300mg of dye in our bodies. That is over 6 times the amount research says starts to cause hyperactivity in kids. This does affect us as well as adults, we are not immune. I challenge you to test it out for yourself. Remove all dyes from your diet for 2 weeks and see if you feel a difference. If you go in unbiased you will see a difference in your children and yourself. This is why we need to ban dyes out of our foods, they are negatively affecting our health. Dyes are an unneeded health risk in our nutrition intake.
[i] "Food Coloring BAN in the UK but Usage Continues for USA." BioHealthBaseorg. 23 Oct. 2014. Web. 17 June 2015.
[ii] "Food Coloring BAN in the UK but Usage Continues for USA." BioHealthBaseorg. 23 Oct. 2014. Web. 17 June 2015.
[iii] "Just How Much Dye Is in Your Food? - Modern Farmer." Modern Farmer. 22 May 2014. Web. 17 June 2015.
[iv] "Food Dyes: Are They Safe?" Food Dyes: Are They Safe? 13 Mar. 2013. Web. 17 June 2015.
[v] "Food Dyes: Are They Safe?" Food Dyes: Are They Safe? 13 Mar. 2013. Web. 17 June 2015.