Would you eat this food if the nutrition label read like this?
Sugar, corn flour blend, wheat flour, whole grain oat flour, oat fiber, soluble corn fiber, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, salt, immune system tumors, natural flavor, hyperactivity in children, turmeric color, adrenal tumors, annatto color, kidney tumors, BHT for freshness.
Spelled out like that, I doubt you would even try it, but I’d be willing to bet most of you have had it many times and even given it to your children. It’s the ingredient list for Fruit Loops, only with the artificial colors changed to their known harmful effects.
Numerous studies have linked the dyes in artificial food coloring to dozens of health risks. The evidence is so compelling that many of the food dyes currently used in America have been banned in Europe for human consumption.
Since I changed the food dye names above, let’s look at the real color names that you should be looking out for and what their effects are.
Blue #1 (Brilliant Blue) Used in baked goods, beverages, dessert powders, candies, cereal, drugs, and other products. Has been shown to cause kidney tumors in mice.
Blue #2 (Indigo Carmine) Used in colored beverages, candies, pet food, and other food and drugs. Causes brain tumors in male rats.
Citrus Red #2 Used to color the skins of Florida Oranges. Causes urinary bladder tumors in rodents.
Green #3 (Fast Green) Used in drugs, personal care products, cosmetics, candies, beverages, ice cream, sorbet, and lipsticks. Causes bladder and testes tumors in rats.
Red #3 (Erythrosine) Appears in sausage casings, oral medication, maraschino cherries, baked goods, and candies. Recognized by the FDA in 1990 as a thyroid carcinogen in animals and banned in cosmetics and externally applied drugs.
Red #40 (Allura Red) Red #40 is the most widely used artificial coloring. You’ll see it in beverages, bakery goods, dessert powders, candies, cereals, other foods, drugs, and cosmetics. It may accelerate the development of immune system tumors in mice and might trigger hyperactivity in children.
Yellow #5 (Tartrazine) Used in pet foods, bakery goods, beverages, dessert powders, candies, cereals, gelatin desserts, and many other foods as well as pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. It can cause severe hypersensitivity reactions and might trigger hyperactivity and behavioral effects in children.
Yellow # 6 (Sunset Yellow) Added to bakery goods, cereals, beverages, dessert powders, candies, gelatin desserts, sausage, cosmetics, and drugs. Known to cause adrenal tumors in animals and can cause severe hypersensitivity reactions.
So why are these harmful artificial dyes used in foods and other items we apply to, or ingest within, our bodies? The answer is simple…money. The big food corporations control much of what we eat. We already know that we should avoid processed foods if we want to eat a healthy diet. When these engineered foods are processed, much of the nutritional value is removed, and also a lot of the visual appeal is lost, rendering it an unsavory-looking pile of mush. So, factories use various additives to make the food thicker, stay crispier, and color it to have a more pleasant appearance. If it looks appealing, you are more likely to buy it.
In the past 50 years, consumption of artificial food coloring has increased more than 500% and unfortunately, children consume the most. A quick stroll through the cereal isle will prove my point. All the sugar cereals are positioned at kid height in brightly colored boxes with rainbows and colorful shaped marshmallows inside. I don’t think the purple horseshoes in Lucky Charms are made from eggplant.
Could this huge increase in harmful food dye consumption by children be the cause of the recent spike in behavioral issues? I’d say the evidence shows strong support for that theory.
So if they are banned in Europe, why are these harmful food additives still being used in the United States? The reason has to do with how the two governments view chemical additives.
In Europe, the European Commission “aims at ensuring a higher level of environmental protection through preventative” decision-making. So, when there is substantial, credible evidence of danger to human or environmental health, protective action should be taken despite continuing scientific uncertainty.
In contrast, in the U.S., the burden of proof is much higher. Studies spanning several years must be conducted before a chemical is even looked at as potentially harmful. Even then, the FDA is very slow to take any chemical out of the food supply. The decisions regarding food in the U.S. are largely influenced by corporations. The same companies that manufacture the harmful additives fund studies to demonstrate their safety and lobby in opposition of their ban to the government. They aim to make their product more appealing while keeping production costs as low as possible to maximize profits. Big food does not care about our health and safety.
We can’t count on our government to protect us when it comes to food safety. Your best defense is to be an educated consumer. Know what the harmful additives are. Read the nutrition facts and ingredients list and avoid foods containing artificial dyes. Choose locally produced foods with minimal processing or organic foods if available. Spread the word and let your elected leaders know that banning these dangerous additives is a priority for you and your family.