One of the best things we can do to promote healthy lifestyles and clean eating is to bring awareness to everyone about the good, the bad, and the ugly. I think artificial food dyes are one of the uglies, but everywhere I look they are there. And now that Easter is approaching, I see more and more candy filling the aisles, almost all of them containing artificial food dyes. Last week after seeing enough food dyes in children’s lunches and in the supermarket aisles to color an entire rainbow, I decided to ask people what they thought about artificial food dyes. I asked three different groups of moms, none knew I wrote a blog dedicated to promoting health and nutrition. Almost all of them said they do not look at the labels for those ingredients, nor did many of them know about the potential health risks. So, I went home and wrote a letter to share with the teachers and parents I know. I figure they can do what they want after they read the letter, but at least I know I have given them some information to make a healthy decision.
Feel free to use the information in this letter to write your own. You never know who will listen, and how it might impact them.
March 21, 2012
Dr. Ms. ABC:
Have you ever wondered about the vibrant colors in certain packaged foods? These colors are very likely the result of some or even many artificial food dyes or chemicals added to the foods our families consume. After decades of on-going studies looking into the potential health risks associated with artificial food dyes, as well as thousands of petitions signed asking the US Food and Drug Administration to remove them, they are still there. In fact, they are present in record numbers. In 2009, just over 16 million pounds of food dyes were added our food.
As you may know, I am an advocate for healthy living and focus my attention on healthy eating. As an advocate and blogger, I try at every opportunity to share ideas with others to enable them to consider healthy options for meal planning. I see grocery store aisles and children’s lunches full of artificial food dyes everyday. This concerns me given some of the current information about artificial food dyes:
- Most artificial food dyes are made from petroleum. The same petroleum used in gasoline and tar.
- Numerous studies have linked artificial food coloring to behavioral problems such as, ADHD, hyperactivity, and mood swings. Other problems associated with food dyes are obesity, asthma, diabetes, and allergic reactions.
- The most common artificial food dyes (red no. 40, yellow no. 5, and yellow no. 6) contain known carcinogens. A carcinogen is a known cancer-causing substance. Yellow no. 5 contains benzene, which is a known carcinogen. Benzene is still allowed in artificial food dyes but has been banned from use in gasoline.
- Many of the same controversial dyes used here in the United States require a warning label in Europe and Canada. In Europe Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain cereal bars are colored with Beetroot, Annatto, and Paprika but here in the US they are colored with Red no. 40, Yellow no. 6, and Blue no. 1. It is possible for these companies to produce the same product without the use of artificial food dyes; we just have to demand it.
I want to bring awareness to as many people as possible. I would love to see parents become proactive and go dye-free when providing food for their children. There are so many options for healthy, delicious and nutritious snacks that are dye free.