Smart Guide To Food Dyes

Things You Can Do to Reduce Exposure to Food Dyes

Yesterday we discussed that there are many studies showing the dangers of food dyes. They have been linked to allergies, ADHD, and cancer.

Today we reference the “Smart Guide To Food Dyes: Buying foods that can help learning” by David Wallinga, M.D., Director of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy’s Food and Health Program with things you can do to reduce the exposure to food dyes.

Things you can do:

• Eat whole foods (fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy fats and protein/dairy). Whole foods are better for you, and allow you to avoid the inspection of food labels necessary to avoid toxic food dyes.

• At home or at restaurants, avoid foods with synthetic food dyes, especially if a child suffers from hyperactivity, ADHD, or other learning or developmental disabilities.

• Garden with kids, visit a farm or join a CSA to help teach your children how ripe whole foods should actually look, smell and taste.

• Call on the FDA to grant CSPI’s petition to eliminate synthetic dyes from our children’s food supply. Ask elected officials to do the same.

• Ask children’s teachers, principals, and school board members to allow only “brain foods” in schools (including vending machines) foods free of synthetic dyes impacting children’s ability to learn and be healthy.

• File a report to be sent to the FDA if you think your child has been affected by food dyes. See http://


  1. Yes we simply make your food from fresh foods from the market and not processed packaged foods. Not that hard. Follow children's recipes in cookbooks. Use dye free, perfume free detergents and dye free meds and cotton clothing.

  2. When reading labels look for: "Cherry-red" Red Number 3 is also called "Erythrosine." The "Orange-red" FD&C Red No.40 is also called "Allura Red AC." Yellow food dyes are also called by a number of names. Yellow 6 is a common additive. Yellow 5 and 6 may cause hives or other allergic reactions. FD&C Green Number 3 is also known as "Fast Green" or "Sea Green."

  3. Beware that some food dyes that are considered "certifiable colors" by the FDA are limited to highly specific uses. For example, Citrus Red Number 2 is only found in some Florida oranges, and then only in the peel. This dye may pose a cancer risk, but it does not penetrate the fruit itself. So wash and peel the orange before eating it.

  4. One thing I think about a lot is how food has changed since I was a kid. My mom prepared real food, not boxed, microwaved, or junk food or take out.If a parent notices that a child’s behavior changes after eating certain foods or they have repeated symptoms like a stomach ache or headache after eating certain foods, then no matter what the FDA says, the parents should not give that food to the child and should contact their pediatrician. Parents can check to see if there is a common ingredient among the foods that spark behavior or physical changes.Aside from food allergies it appears behavioral changes related to foods involve dyes, preservatives, as well as fast food, junk, soda and over feeding. Even small steps can reap big rewards. Pay attention to respected websites like CSPI as well as the FDA and USDA.

  5. When my son was born, 30 years ago, commercial baby food manufacturers were still adding unneeded salt and sugar. Our prenatal class was told to boycott them. I did, even though I went back to work full time when my son was four months old. Many nights my husband, the chef, and I were up late making nutritional meals we could freeze. I did a lot or research and found a great recipe book written by a Canadian nutritionist whose own babies taste tested her recipes. My son's favorite was a baby macaroni and cheese casserole that was semi blended and frozen in mini tinfoil containers that even looked cute. I never ate avacado before I discovered it was nutitional, fast food for babies. By the time our daughter was born five years later, commercial baby food labels no longer listed added sugar or salt. We all need to get back to basics.

  6. I am not a parent or a nanny but someone posted this link to a group I am a part of. I want to share with those concerned about food dyes and children to avoid chemical dyes when possible.I have a mild case of tinnitus, a continual ringing in my left ear. Most of the time, the volume is low enough that I can ignore it but not after I eat a food containing Yellow #5 or #6.Within less than a minute, the volume will increase to the level that it's distracting. There are other chemicals that produce the same reaction – MSG and aspirin, most notably. But all this is well known.I learned that the yellow dyes were culpable probably 15 years ago from a tinnitus society. Perhaps the FDA can plausibly claim that at this time there is insufficient scientific evidence to link AHDH and food dyes. But they cannot deny that these additives have negative effects. Fortunately, over the last decade or so, I'm seen a significant shift toward beta carotene as a yellow additive rather than yellow #5 and #6. I hope that food vendors will increasingly make comparable shifts for the other dyes.

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