There has always been quite a bit of controversy about food dyes and the effects on our bodies. Not only in cereals, dyes are used to enhance food colors for appearance, cosmetics and drinks. The Food Freedom Network provides a comprehensive article about food dye colors.
If you would like to read the entire article from Food Freedom Network click here…otherwise, continue reading the summary of the dye colors.
Below is a list of the most common food dyes used today, posted by the Center for Science in Public Interest. Keep in mind that most, to all, studies were found inconclusive by the FDA. The Appendix also contains where the dye is most commonly found and reactions. CSPI also lists that most of the food dyes contain Benzidine and 4-Aminobiphenyl. Benzidine is a man-produced chemical that causes skin allergies, cancer of the urinary bladder. Some evidence suggests that other organs, such as the stomach, kidney, brain, mouth, esophagus, liver, gallbladder, bile duct, and pancreas, may also be affected. Nice, huh? Please keep in mind that most findings were only tested on rats, mice and dogs. I suggest you read the CSPI’s full document for further information.
Blue #1 (Brilliant Blue):
Summary: Was not found to be toxic in key rat and mouse studies, but an unpublished study suggested the possibility that Blue 1 caused kidney tumors in mice, and a preliminary in vitro study raised questions about possible effects on nerve cells. Blue 1 may not cause cancer, but confirmatory studies should be conducted. The dye can cause hypersensitivity reactions. Added permanently to the food dye exemption list in 1982
What it’s in: Baked goods, beverages, desert powders, candies, cereal, drugs, and other products
What it causes: Excreted in the bile, absorbs in the GI tract and intestine, becomes radioactive in the urine, chromosomal aberrations, kidney tumors, viral infections, microscopic lesions, the FDA nixed one study that a dog died in because the study did not have equal numbers of males and females (uh huh …), kidney tumors, females showed decreased amount of weight and survival in utero, hyperactivity disorders in children, suggested that even in small amount would have a large effect on a child’s brain growth, particularly worrisome for fetuses and infants
Blue #2 (Indigo Carmine):
Summary: Cannot be considered safe given the statistically significant incidence of tumors, particularly brain gliomas, in male rats. Added permanently to the food dye ‘exemption’ list in 1983 because it is ‘claimed’ that B2 cannot cross the blood-brain-barrier
What it’s in: Color beverages, candies, pet food, & other food and drugs
What it causes: Excreted in feces, bile, and small amount in urine, cell neoplasms in the urinary bladder, mammary-gland tumors and brain glimoas
Citrus Red 2:
Summary: Is permitted only for coloring the skins of oranges not used for processing, is toxic to rodents at modest levels and caused tumors of the urinary bladder and possibly other organs. The dye poses minimal human risk, because it is only used at minuscule levels and only on orange peels, but it still has no place in the food supply. … Really? It’s like saying: “Oh, your food just fell in the cyanide, but you are not eating the skin so you’ll be okay!”
What it’s in: Skins of Florida oranges
What it causes: Still intact in feces 48 hours later, broken down in GI tract, causes bladder cancer, found in urine (absorbed, sulfonated, and then excreted), tumors in liver, lungs, lymph nodes, increased fatty metamorphosis, significant weight gain in females, hyperplasia, thickening of urinary bladder wall causing papillomas, can be consumed by humans after peeling oranges
Green #3 (Fast Green):
Summary: Caused significant increases in bladder and testes tumors in male rats. Though the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers it safe, this little-used dye must remain suspect until further testing is conducted.
What it’s in: Drugs, personal care products, cosmetic products except in eye area, candies, beverages, ice cream, sorbet; ingested drugs, lipsticks, and externally applied cosmetics
What it causes: Excreted in feces and bile, tests on dogs proved raise in pup mortality, testes tumors, liver neoplastic nodules, urinary neoplasms, studies found that mostly males were affected
Orange B: is approved for use only in sausage casings, but has not been used for many years. Limited industry testing did not reveal any problems
Red #3 (Erythrosine):
Summary: Recognized in 1990 by the FDA as a thyroid carcinogen in animals and is banned in cosmetics and externally applied drugs. All uses of Red 3 lakes (combinations of dyes and salts that are insoluble and used in low-moisture foods) are also banned. However, the FDA still permits Red 3 in ingested drugs and foods, with about 200,000 pounds of the dye being used annually.
What it’s in: Sausage casings, oral medication, maraschino cherries, baked goods, candies, some cosmetics
What it causes: 58% iodine content, excreted in bile which means the body absorbs and to some extent body tissue metabolizes it, those who use it normally have double the amount of protein iodine than those who do not, dye takes about 3 months to leave the body, ulcers, increased incidences of lyhmphocytic lymphoma in males, increased thyroid follicular cell adenomas in males, weight loss in adults and children, animal carcinogen
Red #40 (Allura Red):
Red40 scientific name: 6-hydroxy-5-[(2-methoxy-5-methyl-4-sulfophenyl)azo]-2-naphthalenesulfonic acid, also referred to as “Azos” or Cochineal
Summary: First produced at the Allied Chemical Corporation, most-widely used/consumed dye, may accelerate the appearance of immune-system tumors in mice. The dye causes hypersensitivity (allergy-like) reactions in a small number of consumers and might trigger hyperactivity in children.
What it’s in: Beverages, bakery goods, dessert powders, candies, cereals, foods, drugs, and cosmetics
What it causes: Becomes radioactive in urine and stays radioactive in the guts (yes, you read that right … even in small amounts), affects the stomach, lungs and colon, urticaria, angiodema, hypersensitivity in all patients tested, passes in utero and proves a significant decrease in body weight in females, was present in dogs system years later, reticuloendotheliel tumors did not show growth but were still there, aniline and other contaminants found
Yellow #5 (Tartrazine):
Summary: Not carcinogenic in rats, but was not adequately tested in mice. It may be contaminated with several cancer-causing chemicals. In addition, Yellow 5 causes sometimes-severe hypersensitivity reactions in a small number of people and might trigger hyperactivity and other behavioral effects in children. Posing some risks, while serving no nutritional or safety purpose. Y5 is contaminated with several carcinogens, including benzidine and 4-aminobiphenyl. All studies indicated that Y5 contains more parts per million than ‘certifiably’ allowed by FDA standards.
What it’s in: Pet foods, in numerous bakery goods, beverages, dessert powders, candies, cereals, gelatin desserts, and many other foods, as well as pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics
What it causes: Effects metabolism, accelerated urinary excretion, hyperactivity in children, induces chromosomal aberrations, studies done on infant rats proved more toxic and carcinogenic, benzidine and other contaminant level found above FDA regulation. A study done by the FDA in 1990 says that Y5 found 4 cancers in 10 million people but that does not provide enough risk to pull its usage. The ratio is more than likely increased by 500% since 1990.
Yellow #6 (Sunset Yellow):
Summary: Caused adrenal tumors in animals, though that is disputed by industry and the FDA. It may be contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals and occasionally causes severe hypersensitivity reactions. Yellow 6 adds an unnecessary risk to the food supply. FDA-approved Form of Sunset yellow, is water soluble sulfonated azo dye.
What it’s in: Color bakery goods, cereals, beverages, dessert powders, candies, gelatin deserts, sausage, cosmetics and drugs
What it causes: Adrenal tumors, severe hypersensitivity/hyperactivity, increased/ accelerated urinary excretion, urticaria, asthma angioedema of lips, eyes, or face; reddening of the eyes; sweating; increased tear secretion; nasal congestion; sneezing; rhinitis (runny nose); hoarseness; wheezing; and a variety of subjective symptoms
Source: Food Freedom Network