Real Food Tips: 7 Reasons I Hate Artificial Food Dyes

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Artificial food dye, synthetic food dye, food coloring, FD&C Red No. 40, or Tartrazine (a.k.a. Yellow No. 5)… whatever name it’s listed under, it is all pretty much the same stuff. And as I’ve said on this site before I have no problem occasionally digging into yummy homemade treats made with plenty of chocolate, sugar, or whatever else we’re craving, but what I NEVER want to “treat” myself (or my children) to is a dose of chemicals derived from petroleum. Yep, no typos there…that’s what artificial food dye is made from and unfortunately the 15 million pounds of food dye used in the U.S. per year (5 times more than in 1955) is in much more than just colorful icing these days. Dyes, made from the same petroleum that fuels our vehicles, is turning up in an insane amount of packaged foods including Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Minute Maid Lemonade, Lunchables, Fruit Roll Ups, Cheetos, and even “Light and Fit” Yoplait Yogurt. And the crazy thing is these companies tell us right there on the ingredient label that artificial color (and sometimes “artificial flavoring”) has been added…but most consumers don’t seem to be fazed by it.

Upon discovering what this (seemingly harmless and common) additive is made from I had to tell my daughters. I explained how it’s in thousands of products including birthday party cupcakes, salad dressing, cough syrup, and even daddy’s mouthwash. Rightfully so my 1st grader looked at me a little shocked and went on to say, “Can we write a letter to the president?” Now I love how that girl thinks, but at the same time it broke my heart that my innocent child thought that’s all it would take. If we just told the president that food companies were feeding us petroleum based chemicals disguised as brightly colored food dyes he surely wouldn’t allow it anymore. And while I am not very good at politics myself what I’d like to be good at is educating and influencing all of you to vote with your dollars. I truly believe that if consumers stop purchasing artificially dyed and flavored foods we can make an impact. If enough of us speak up the big food companies will listen to consumer demand. And I know this for a fact because that’s exactly what’s happened in other countries outside of the U.S (check out #3 below).…we are apparently just behind the curve on this one.

7 Reasons I Hate Artificial Food Dyes

1. They are made in a lab with chemicals derived from petroleum, a crude oil product, which also happens to be used in gasoline, diesel fuel, asphalt, and tar.

NPR.org: “Artificial food dyes are made from petroleum and approved for use by the FDA to enhance the color of processed foods.”

2. They’ve been linked to long-term health problems such as cancer. If you’re a child of the ‘80s (like me) do you remember that rumor about red M&Ms causing cancer? Maybe it wasn’t just a rumor after all.

CSPInet.org: “The three most widely used dyes, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6, are contaminated with known carcinogens, says CSPI. Another dye, Red 3, has been acknowledged for years by the Food and Drug Administration to be a carcinogen, yet is still in the food supply.” FYI – According to Wikipedia, “A carcinogen is any substance … that is an agent directly involved in causing cancer.” !!!

CBSnews.com: “There’s no good reason not to ban Red 3, something then-acting FDA commissioner Mark Novitch tried to do in 1984, saying the dye ‘has clearly been shown to induce cancer’ and was ‘of greatest public health concern.’ … Other dyes, namely Blue 1, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6, are known to cause allergic reactions in some people and have shown signs of causing cancer in lab animals. Of course, this isn’t the same thing as leading to cancer in humans, but it argues for limiting intake, especially among children, who are getting the biggest dose of food colorings from a gazillion brightly colored, fun-looking foods.”

3. Did you know that food products containing artificial dye are required to have a warning label in the U.K.? The label states that the food “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.” So speaking of M&Ms, they aren’t so brightly colored in some countries outside of the U.S. because manufacturers would rather do away with the artificial dye than have to put a warning label on their products.

Mercola.com: “This is why if you eat a Nutri-Grain strawberry cereal bar in the United States, it will contain Red 40, Yellow 6 and Blue 1. But that same bar in the UK contains only the natural colorings beetroot red, annatto and paprika extract. In fact, the UK branches of Wal-Mart, Kraft, Coca-Cola and Mars have removed artificial colors, sodium benzoate and aspartame from their product lines as a result of consumer demand and government recommendations. In the United States, however, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to allow these toxic ingredients in countless popular foods, including those marketed directly to children.”

CBSnews.com: Many Grocery Manufacturers Association members (like Pepsi, Kraft and General Mills) “have switched to natural colorings in their products in the U.K., where warning labels are required, but they’re not doing that here for the most part. That’s because no one’s making them do it, and switching would cost a lot of money.”

4. Synthetic food dyes have been shown to cause an increase in hyperactivity in children as well as a negative impact on their ability to learn.

Washingtonpost.com:”Artificial food dyes (in combination with a common preservative) could make even children with no known behavioral problems hyperactive and inattentive.”

CSPInet.org: “The science shows that kids’ behavior improves when these artificial colorings are removed from their diets and worsens when they’re added to the their diets.” and “While not all children seem to be sensitive to these chemicals, it’s hard to justify their continued use in foods—especially those foods heavily marketed to young children.”

Mercola.com: “According to scientific studies, these dyes are causing behavioral problems and disrupting children’s attention.”

5. They add absolutely no value to the foods we are eating, but do in-fact pose quite a few serious risks.

FDA.gov: “Without color additives, colas wouldn’t be brown, margarine wouldn’t be yellow and mint ice cream wouldn’t be green. Color additives are now recognized as an important part of practically all processed foods we eat.”

Huffingtonpost.com: “These dyes have no purpose whatsoever other than to sell junk food.”

CSPInet.org: “These synthetic chemicals do absolutely nothing to improve the nutritional quality or safety of foods, but trigger behavior problems in children and, possibly, cancer in anybody. The Food and Drug Administration should ban dyes, which would force industry to color foods with real food ingredients, not toxic petrochemicals.”

6. They trick your senses…just like other artificial additives including sweeteners.

In Defense of Food: “One of the problems with the products of food science is that, as Joan Gussow has pointed out, they lie to your body; their artificial colors and flavors and synthetic sweeteners and novel fats confound the senses we rely on to assess new foods and prepare our bodies to deal with them. Foods that lie leave us with little choice but to eat by the numbers, consulting labels rather than our senses.”

7. They are contributing to the obesity epidemic by attracting children (and adults) to highly processed food, which in many cases is being eaten instead of fresh whole foods.

Washingtonpost.com: “Beyond the behavioral problems and cancer risks, the greatest hazard that dyes pose for children may also be the most obvious: They draw kids away from nutritious foods and toward brightly colored processed products that are high in calories but low in nutrients, such as fruit-flavored drinks and snack foods. Those types of foods are a major force in America’s obesity epidemic.”

Disclosure: My children do occasionally eat foods containing artificial dye because it’s provided to them by teachers, other parents, and friends, but it’s not something we spend our own money on anymore.

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450 comments to Real Food Tips: 7 Reasons I Hate Artificial Food Dyes

  • Aisha

    Thank you for this post. Is this the same petroleum that is used to make petroleum jelly (Vaseline)?
    If so, I know this is not a skin care blog, but what are your suggestions for body care like lotions that do. It use petroleum or petrolatum?

    • Marilyn

      The best thing for dry skin is pure coconut oil! It is very soothing and healing. Petroleum is petroleum, regardless of the form it takes. There is also a product called “Unpetroleum Jelly” you can find in health food stores or Whole Foods. Pure lanolin is also very good for healing cracked, sore skin.

    • I agree coconut oil,grapeseed or olive oil are great skin moisturizers found in your grocery store cooking oil section. If you like the lotion feel (as my husband does) try Burt’s Bees, Kiss My Face or Shea Moisture brands. I like these as they meet my criteria for being readily available in stores other than health food stores in large metro areas and for being affordable. Shea Moisture is fair trade certified, smells great (no artificial scents either) and can be found at Target and Walgreens for $10-11. Burt’s Bees and Kiss My Face can also be found in grocery stores such as Kroger, Harris Teeter or Lowes Foods and are ~$10-14. Check out http://www.thetakebacktour for my listings and recipes

  • amelia.louisa

    I think the best thing to do is to vote with your money and not ever spend it on food with artificial coloring. It’s not JUST the government that doesn’t stop this kind of thing: Companies (the free market y’all!) will fight tooth and nail to keep adding the cheapest possible things to our food. This is not a country that thrives on doing what is best for the community (cause that might smack of socialism!) – this is a country that is all about the individual and their rights. I’ve heard many people complain about government interference (which truly does a bang up job does it not?) – but who also throw a fit at the idea that the government should get involved and stop them from using artificial dyes. Let the free market decide! Well, ok.. why not? Fine. I’m not spending my money on artificial foods! The problem we face is getting those who could care less (and that’s a lot of people!) to recognize the benefits – that we as a society… as Americans… can live without ungodly bright food. I actually read a woman complaining about natural dyes because she promised her daughter a bright purple cake – and heaven knows she “deserves” a bright purple cake. Really? Does she?

    I guess my point is, through all my rambling up there, is that for there to be a change in this country with regards to artificial dyes, there is going to have to be a paradigm shift in the way our society defines what we “deserve”. Our children DESERVE a society and lifestyle that we leave to them that promotes healthy and sustainable eating and living. So, in the end, with what we are up against, I think the best thing to do is to, again, vote with your money and spread the word as much as possible – and for those who choose to ignore it – it’s to their own detriment… and heaven knows, it’s their right.

  • Thank you for the post. This drives me CRAZY!!! My youngest is hyper sensitive to chemicals and has bad allergies. Such a struggle to get people to care/understand this issue.

  • Alisa

    Check out chosemyplate.gov I agree that our country has allowed some outrageous chemicals to be added to our foods. We are also behind in correcting the problem but they are at least trying to re-educate. It is a start and some helpful information.

  • Chris

    I’m so glad you posted this! I really want to encourage parents of hyper active children to stop giving them processed foods with dyes in them and see what happens. My son, who is 22 now, started having behavioral problems everyday in pre school and occasionally at home. Sometimes he was wired and bouncing off the walls other times quiet and mellow. I started noticing it happened when he ate certain types of candy like M&M’s. The reward for being good at his pre school was a few M&M’s. He was a differnt kid after he wasn’t allowed food with dyes like red or blue anymore. My neice has the same problem with red dyes. She is quiet and shy unless she has had some red licorice–Then watch out!

  • Patricia

    Great article! I’m also a member of Feingold. Also, don’t forget that artificial dyes contain mercury, lead, and arsenic!

  • I blog about all of this because we discovered that our daughter has a food dye sensitivity, and so do I. I often write that we should vote with our dollars because the food manufacturers have to respond even to a slight shift in sales. Send tweets to your favorite food manufacturers asking when they will ditch the dyes and preservatives. Economic pressure works. We saw that this week with the announcement of Nestle UK removing all artificial addtives from their entire line of 79 sweets and beverages products…and Coke and Pepsi lowering the amount of caramel coloring in their beverages (it’s a start). As for the teachers, the USDA recommends that schools NOT use food rewards, and you can bring documentation found online to your school to ask them to stop. If you have a school Nutrition & Wellness committee, join it…if not, start one. My site is at http://www.DieFoodDye.com and I have an active community of helpful mamas on my “Die, Food Dye!” Facebook page- feel free to post any questions there. I am always collecting personal stories of dye sensitivity from guest bloggers too. Writing a children’s book about this issue as well. Thanks for spreading the word!

    • 100 Days of Real Food

      Oh I just saw your post on BlogHer before I even saw your comment and blasted out your site on my facebook fans!

      • Thank you for that! One of my readers posted the link to this article of yours on my DFD Facebook page today. I think your piece is very well written. :)

        • 100 Days of Real Food

          Thank you…means a lot coming from a food dye expert! :) Have you considered starting a petition or maybe a “pledge” people on your site that people can sign stating they will no longer buy foods with artificial ingredients (since what we do with our $$ is what will really get attention)?

  • I remember when I was about nine (I am 49 today). I had something with yellow food coloring in it and I swelled up and hives appeared everywhere on my body. My parents had to rush me to the hospital because they knew I was having an allergic reaction which I had once before when they found out I was allergic to penicillin. It was around the time General Mills came out with Lucky Charms Cereal. I have never artificial food coloring since then. Fast forward 20 some years and one of my sons is so allergic to food coloring that it caused his attention deficit disorder. He even feels it today if he has any food coloring. He says that his heart begins to race and he can’t collect his thoughts. He is an adult today. Processed food needs the coloring because it would all be grey, it also needs the flavorings, which come from the same source as the coloring, petroleum. If the manufacturers removed the coloring and flavoring from their products then people would not buy them because they would just be grey chemicals.

    Color should come from nature, not from a chemical plant.

  • Carrie

    Thanks for this! We are trying to remove all of the food dyes from our eating, but they are s want! My husband. Bought reduced sugar jelly the other week, and when I checked it to see if it had artificial sweetener (it did not), I was shocked to see Red 40 as one of the ingredients! Why do you need dye in jelly?? I went out that night and bought some fruit spread. Gotta dump the jelly out, though it will make my frugal heart weep.

    • 100 Days of Real Food

      Return it! I return stuff to the grocery store ALL the time…probably too much, but I also spend most of our money there so I feel I have the right if I am dissatisfied :)

  • Joanna Reed

    I notice extreme changes in my kids’ (particularly my boys’) behavior whenever they have food dye. We’ve noticed it is particularly bad with red dye but orange items like gold fish crackers will make them really hyper and unable to listen to simple commands. They aren’t happy to skip on some of their favorite things but we remind them that red dye gives them red behavior and that helps. After several years of avoiding food dyes we’ve recently stopped giving my oldest son cafeteria food at his school and replaced it with home made versions of whatever is on the school menu for that day. So his diet is 99% preservative free. He is happy with that, he will eat what I pack him for lunch and I swear his behavior is improved as a result

  • Preach it, sister!! I’m going to send you a couple of links to posts I wrote about this. I love your daughter’s natural tendency towards advocacy – a girl after my own heart! The president did actually pass some legislation about food affecting kids; but the lobbyists are STRONG and mighty – and it’s just really tough to get anything to change.

  • Adam

    I appreciate everything I read on the site, and of course since artificial food colorings (AFCs) certainly offer no benefit it would be nice if they weren’t in our food. But I always wish that bloggers such as yourself would spend a little extra time to find the REAL sources of information, not popular, non-scientific sources like NPR or the Post. Just as one example, using google scholar it took me less than five minutes to find a 2011 article in the journal Pediatrics (official journal of American Academy of Pediatrics), link pasted below. In the abstract the authors say, “We believe the balance of existing evidence neither refutes or supports the link between AFCs and ADHD, which highlights the need for carefully designed studies to investigate the link between AFCs and ADHD.” Of course this says nothing about the potential link with cancer, but again I always just appreciate hearing evidence from legitimate sources. Things are nearly always less clear cut than the sensation-seeking media would have us believe.

    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/127/6/e1575.full.pdf+html

    • Read the “financial disclosure” on that article. Doesn’t scream “legitimate” to me.

    • Jennifer

      I agree Adam. I would like to see more research evidence before I make a decision. For every article, study, or blog that says one thing, there is an opposing view with evidence to support that side as well. And I would also like someone to provide some suggestions for individuals who have a lower socioeconomic status and have limited (or no) access to places such as Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, or Earthfare. Often people are quick to criticize and judge those who “choose” not to make healthier food decisions but what we oft times forget is that those options were never presented as an option in the first place. Fixed incomes and food stamps don’t often allow for individuals to shop at these types of places or afford some of the aforementioned options. Although I understand what many of you have said about cutting dyes and the correlation with your children’s behaviors but I do think there is more to the behavior argument than just food. I am in no way diminishing your issues but I do think many of the comments are slanted so much that I am having a hard time considering anything presented here and I am a classic fence sitter-I always see both sides of an argument and rarely can pick one side over the other. However the tone with which your comments are posted make me want to fight for the underdog-those who are not able and cannot afford to do what you have all suggested. And just to be clear I do not come to this blog completely uninformed about the have nots- I am currently working on a PhD in community health psychology and these are the very issues we discuss quite often. And I work with those individuals I mentioned and trust and believe, they cannot afford to shop elsewhere because of dyes. I don’t doubt the dyes cause problems but we need to be mindful of others when blanket comments are made about “cleaning house” in terms of food.

      • You do NOT have to shop at those places to eat healthy! And pretty much any mainstream grocery store carries things like steel-cut oats, brown rice, as well as plenty of produce. Real Cheap Food is a GREAT blog for people who want to eat well on a very strict budget. The options are there – it just takes a little education.

        http://realcheapfood.com/

      • Trader Joe’s is 10 times less expensive than my Publix and Kroger. There are links all throughout this post and comment thread to give people ideas of where to start and how to do this.

      • Foods that contain dye aren’t actually “food.” They are petrochemicals. The food industry is very effectively leading you to believe these products are “food.”
        Every mainstream grocery store carries food without dyes. You don’t have to go to a specialty shops. THESE are the myths that are being perpetuated. Food dye being toxic is TRUTH.

    • I AM a legitimate source. My family has proven time and time again that dyes impact kids’ brains. You don’t have to believe it; it is nevertheless the TRUTH. You can go to the Feingold Association website and link to a page with MANY, MANY scientific studies.
      Did you miss the part about how these dyes are NO LONGER allowed in food in other countries because the research about their safety is so alarming??

      • Jennifer

        I teach my students that personal experience does not count when following a claim. There are too many options in terms of research methods to look at a few case studies and believe me a few 100 people or so is not enough to make cause and effect claims. I do believe there is a strong correlation but again I am cautious about reading this information and making cause and effect claims. Did anyone consider another hypothesis? What about alternative reasons for your children’s reactions or changes to the removal of the dyes from their diets? What if this were tested keeping in mind the placebo effect? What about children who maintain behavior problems AFTER the removal of dye from their diets? What about genetics- chromosomes and hormones passed down from their parents? All I was simply saying is there should be more scientific evidence published in peer reviewed journal articles before cause and effect claims are made

        As for the expense, the families I work with would love to have Kroger or Publix as an option. Those and other national chains do not exist in their neighborhoods- many of them are limited to the “local no name market” where the “food” is cheap and fits their budget. I only brought up those who are not as financially blessed because as I said in my first post, it is important to consider other people when these blanket statements are made. Many of you have talked about how you bring your own foods or desserts to places and that is good for you but if I were a parent who did not bring those foods you would make me feel like less of a parent for not doing so. The tone in many of your statements comes across as though there is something wrong with parents who do not make the switch to dye-free foods. I just wanted to bring awareness that there are some people who don’t have that as an option and we should think about them before we judge those who do things differently from ourselves.

        • There is just no way that these grocery stores you’re talking about don’t have a least some healthy options. Again, it is entirely possible to make the switch to dye free foods on an extremely limited budget. There just isn’t a grocery store where every single item has harmful ingredients in it.

          “Cheap food” is really not much cheaper than whole food if you do a little planning and budgeting. Staples like oatmeal, brown rice, beans, frozen produce and cheaper fruits and veggies like bananas and carrots are all great options. So no I don’t think I’m “better” than parents who are buying the food that’s available but I also just don’t buy that they don’t have the option at all.

          I can’t speak for anyone else of course, but personally I don’t necessarily judge anyone for eating differently than I do. But I would, I suppose, “judge” a parent of a child with behavioral issues who didn’t do some research, see what other parents in a similar situation have seen work for them and see how their child reacts to a change in diet. Especially if their reason for not doing so was lack of healthy food available or cost. My commenting here isn’t to try to put my own opinions on a pedestal and act like I’m better than anyone else. It’s just that I used to think that eating healthy was too expensive as well and I have learned a lot since then so it’s important for me to encourage others to look further into how they can eat well on little money too.

          I’m curious about what you think about the fact that these same dyes are banned in Europe.

          Last, as far as research goes, you are assuming that most of us aren’t intelligent enough to take a close enough look at what’s going on with our kids to weigh the different possibilities and take a hard, unbiased look at the results. I can assure you that what happened with my then 1.5 year old was not a placebo effect. You can read about my experience in my other comment but to sum it up red and blue food dyes were the only ingredients that were unusual to our diet. When he stopped eating it, his behavior improved dramatically. Whenever he has a food with certain dyes in it (usually an unknowing family member gives a treat), we can tell within hours and confirm it with whoever he was with. I agree that there absolutely should be more scientific research done on this, but that’s what a lot of parents here are pushing for by talking about it and raising awareness about it. It needs to be understood that there’s a problem, first, and that’s what’s going on here. It sounds like you’re saying “Just be quiet and let the professionals handle it.” But they won’t if it’s not talked about, if it’s not brought up as a problem in the first place.

        • Feingold Association. That’s where you find the link to the scientific studies INCLUDING the one that got these toxins removed from children’s products in Europe. Really. You have some interesting points, but all I hear is you questioning the e year hellish journey we went through with my child. Please. You have no idea what it is like to walk in my shoes. Elimination diets are scientific and medically recommended. That is how I KNOW that dyes are the problem for MY child.

          • Jennifer

            Never said that dye’s weren’t a problem and never said the statements made on this blog aren’t true. Just said we should be cautious about cause and effect statements. And I am not questioning your journey but you are assuming I dont have one. Just because I did not share my story doesn’t mean I don’t have one.

  • For skincare (Aisha asked), try http://www.100percentpure.com for totally additive free skincare, makeup, etc. They use veg and fruit coloring only.
    And I smiled when I saw that other kids wanted to urgently write to the President about this, as that was my daughter’s first reaction, too! She is a very strong and savvy 7 year old and has no problem telling folks that artificial additives are bad and why.

    For Adam, Please go to the PubMed site and type in these studies and years:

    Swanson and Kinsbourne (Science), 1980
    Egger (The Lancet), 1985
    Kaplan (Pediatrics), 1989
    Carter (Archives of Diseases in Childhood), 1993
    Boris (Annals of Allergy), 1994
    Rowe and Rowe (Journal of Pediatrics), 1994
    McCann (The Lancet), 2007
    Also try:
    Lancaster, 1999
    Tanaka 1993, 1996, 2001, 2005; Vorhees 1983
    Rosenkranz 1990; Sweeney 1994; Tsuda 2001; Sasaki 2002
    Aboel-Zahab 1997

    Next please see these studies: http://www.feingold.org/Research/adhd.html

    Most powerful is this… Here’s a statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics from 2008, confirming what moms all over the world already know (print this for your doc):
    “Despite increasing data supporting the efficacy of stimulants in preschoolers with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) parents and providers understandably seek safe and effective interventions that require no prescription. A recent meta-analysis of 15 trials concludes that there is “accumulating evidence that neurobehavioral toxicity may characterize a variety of widely distributed chemicals.” [Schab DW, et al. J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2004;25:423–434] Some children may be more sensitive to the effects of these chemicals, and the authors suggest there is a need to better identify responders. In real life, practitioners faced with hyperactive preschoolers have a reasonable option to offer parents. For the child without a medical, emotional, or environmental etiology of ADHD behaviors, a trial of a preservative-free, food coloring–free diet is a reasonable intervention.” – Alison Schonwald, MD, FAAP, of the Developmental Medicine Center at Children’s Hospital in Boston (published in the February 2008 issue of the AAP Grand Rounds).
    And the Editors’ Note which follows states:
    “Although quite complicated, this was a carefully conducted study in which the investigators went to great lengths to eliminate bias and to rigorously measure outcomes. The results are hard to follow and somewhat inconsistent. For many of the assessments there were small but statistically significant differences of measured behaviors in children who consumed the food additives compared with those who did not. In each case increased hyperactive behaviors were associated with consuming the additives. For those comparisons in which no statistically significant differences were found, there was a trend for more hyperactive behaviors associated with the food additive drink in virtually every assessment. Thus, the overall findings of the study are clear and require that even we skeptics, who have long doubted parental claims of the effects of various foods on the behavior of their children, admit we might have been wrong.”

    I am really heartened to read all the comments above. The momentum this movement is gaining is POWER.

  • My husband brought a backpack full of nutrigrain bars home from work last year & so we were eating them like crazy – they have all kinds of dyes in the filling. DS started acting crazy – banging his head on walls and the floors, screaming, hitting himself and rocking back and forth. It was literally like he had no idea what was going on. I had him on just fruits, veggies and oatmeal for a couple days and he was like a whole new kid again. And now whenever he accidentally gets a colored “treat” from an unknowing relative or friend, we can tell within hours, he’ll be more hyper, crabby and somewhat disoriented.

    Luckily it wasn’t that big of a change for us – we eat mostly whole foods anyway, we just happened to get a bunch of free nutrigrain bars. I’m actually kind of glad that happened because otherwise we might not have ever put our finger on it.

  • Well, we don’t use the word hate in our house. LOL! But, we also don’t allow artificial colors, HFCS, or hydrogenated fats. Great post.

  • Sarah

    Although I appreciate what you have written and agree with your premise, I think you could be more persuassive if you would link to original source documents. A news report does not make something necessarily true. When I read “Washingtonpost.com:”Artificial food dyes (in combination with a common preservative) could make even children with no known behavioral problems hyperactive and inattentive, ” I want to know the following: What study or paper is the Washington Post basing its analysis. Because those same papers told us that dyes were perfectly safe at one point or another. If you want to persuade your legislator, go to the source, not just some article written by a reporter who interviewed a scientist who may or may not have direct knowledge of the study.

  • The good news for low income families is that more and more Farmers Markets are giving double value for food stamps to purchase fresh foods. Ironically, the food stamp program was originated as a way to utilize farms’ surplus, getting fresh food to those who can’t afford much. We see how that has changed over the years. And more and more “food deserts” are being supplemented with good folks bringing the Farmers Markets to them via bus. Read this great blog post on Civil Eats called “How To Stay A Foodie Family On Food Stamps”: http://civileats.com/2011/08/30/how-to-stay-a-foodie-family-on-food-stamps/

  • For skincare (Aisha asked), try http://www.100percentpure.com for totally additive free skincare, makeup, etc. They use veg and fruit coloring only.
    And I smiled when I saw that other kids wanted to urgently write to the President about this, as that was my daughter’s first reaction, too! She is a very strong and savvy 7 year old and has no problem telling folks that artificial additives are bad and why.

    For Adam, Please go to the PubMed site and type in these studies and years:

    Swanson and Kinsbourne (Science), 1980
    Egger (The Lancet), 1985
    Kaplan (Pediatrics), 1989
    Carter (Archives of Diseases in Childhood), 1993
    Boris (Annals of Allergy), 1994
    Rowe and Rowe (Journal of Pediatrics), 1994
    McCann (The Lancet), 2007
    Also try:
    Lancaster, 1999
    Tanaka 1993, 1996, 2001, 2005; Vorhees 1983
    Rosenkranz 1990; Sweeney 1994; Tsuda 2001; Sasaki 2002
    Aboel-Zahab 1997

    Next please see these studies: http://www.feingold.org/Research/adhd.html

    Most powerful is this… Here’s a statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics from 2008, confirming what moms all over the world already know (print this for your doc):
    “Despite increasing data supporting the efficacy of stimulants in preschoolers with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) parents and providers understandably seek safe and effective interventions that require no prescription. A recent meta-analysis of 15 trials concludes that there is “accumulating evidence that neurobehavioral toxicity may characterize a variety of widely distributed chemicals.” [Schab DW, et al. J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2004;25:423–434] Some children may be more sensitive to the effects of these chemicals, and the authors suggest there is a need to better identify responders. In real life, practitioners faced with hyperactive preschoolers have a reasonable option to offer parents. For the child without a medical, emotional, or environmental etiology of ADHD behaviors, a trial of a preservative-free, food coloring–free diet is a reasonable intervention.” – Alison Schonwald, MD, FAAP, of the Developmental Medicine Center at Children’s Hospital in Boston (published in the February 2008 issue of the AAP Grand Rounds).
    And the Editors’ Note which follows states:
    “Although quite complicated, this was a carefully conducted study in which the investigators went to great lengths to eliminate bias and to rigorously measure outcomes. The results are hard to follow and somewhat inconsistent. For many of the assessments there were small but statistically significant differences of measured behaviors in children who consumed the food additives compared with those who did not. In each case increased hyperactive behaviors were associated with consuming the additives. For those comparisons in which no statistically significant differences were found, there was a trend for more hyperactive behaviors associated with the food additive drink in virtually every assessment. Thus, the overall findings of the study are clear and require that even we skeptics, who have long doubted parental claims of the effects of various foods on the behavior of their children, admit we might have been wrong.”

    I am really heartened to read all the comments above. The momentum this movement is gaining is POWER.

  • Sarah and others (I apologize, I’ve read all the messages but don’t have time this morning to go back and pick for all the names), I think I might be able to give you a bit of a different viewpoint. First, Johns Hopkins has done a study on how food dyes and HFCS affect children. I am terribly sorry that I don’t have the link to it (I’m not sure it’s online) but if you call them you might be able to get the info you’re seeking. That said, let me relate a couple of things.

    First, I am on an anti-depressant. It’s not a strong one, and it’s one of the older ones. I take the lowest dose: 20mg. The pill that I take each evening is 1/8 of an inch across. That’s the smallest pill that we’re allowed to manufacture, because smaller ones are harder to handle. Most of my pill is filler (and it states that on the info sheet that comes with it). Now, 20mg is a tiny, minuscule dose. That is a very effective dose for me, and changes my attitudes and behaviors *dramatically* (if you doubt it, ask my family LOL). Now think about how much food dye it takes to color anything… frosting, if you like, as that’s a common item we’ve talked about. My pill would fit about 100 times in the average amount of frosting on a cupcake. What is the “active dose” of food dye that bothers a child? My guess (though this is just a guess) is that it would range in the high milligram range… still more than enough to fill out the cupcake frosting several times over.

    Second, we ARE conducting scientific experiments with our children. We formed a hypothesis: I think that HFCS and food dye is causing my child to behave oddly. We then created a controlled scenario: removing all HFCS and dye from the diet. We observed the response to that control: the child became calm and focused, and was able to interact in ‘normal’ fashion with other children his age. We repeated the experiment, because it’s important to see that results are repeatable: HFCS and dye were individually added back into the child’s diet, and the results recorded. We came up with a theory: HFCS and food dye have negative reactions on this child.

    The experiment goes much further, though, because it doesn’t just involve me and my child… It involves all the children mentioned on here, and thousands more across the country, plus hundreds of thousands in other countries.

    This note wasn’t to any one person, but was just meant to address the various issues that I’ve seen go by. Our son is a twin, six years old, and is high functioning autistic. On an all natural diet he pretty much blends in with the other kids. Add in HFCS and he sits and stares at his hand, rocks back and forth, and goes into unaccountable screaming fits. At the end of it he crawls into your lap and tells you, “My brain is broken again…” He hates it. He knows how to read and is hyper intelligent – he reads the labels on EVERYTHING and avoids HFCS like the plague, because it “breaks his brain.” If a six year old can figure it out… well…

  • I compiled tips and tricks from over 30 places online, for ways to affordably eat natural and organic foods – please read my post called “One Moveable Feast: Serve Up Organic Meals Without Blowing Your Budget”: http://www.diefooddye.com/2011/11/21/one-moveable-feast/

    I am hoping to help make it easier for all to enjoy quality food.

  • Lisa I tried to post a list of scientific studies and a quote from the AAP…are you guys able to see it? I posted twice, last night and just now. It says it’s awaiting moderation. Should I try again? Don’t wanna fill up your thread with duplicates. Can you help? Thanks!

  • As if it isn’t bad enough…COAL TAR?!?!?!?!?! (taken from http://www.wisegeek.com)

    Food coloring indicated in health problems are the following:

    1) FD & C Yellow No. 5 contains tartrazine. People who have aspirin sensitivity may not tolerate it and it may be especially a bad choice for people who have frequent asthma. Tartrazine is derived from coal tar, which has led to concerns for all people who consume it.

    2) FD & C Red No. 3 contains erythrosine, another coal tar based compound. There is suspicion that this colorant may be carcinogenic. Rat studies showed development of thyroid tumors when high doses of erythrosine were administered.

  • Kristin

    For candy, I try to buy my girls straight chocolate for holidays. Cost Plus has a nice selection of imported foil wrapped chocolates in cute shapes, santas, snowman, teddy bears, etc. Also, regular old hershey’s is dye, HFCS free. I bought my girls the foil wrapped eggs for easter. As for jelly beans, I found a variety that got good reviews(dye hfcs free), Surf Sweet, at naturalcandystore.com that thankfully is also sold at my local whole foods. Though the jelly belly “Snapple” jelly beans are also dye free (contain HFCS) and available at more mainstream stores. I sent my Dad a polite email about what easter candy is acceptable. I also plan to have acceptable candy on hand to swap with the candy my girls get containing dyes. Does anyone know of natural dyes (for tinting frosting) that are usable for multiple years? The ones I saw where quite expensive and only good for 6 months.

    • Regular Hershey’s and some other mainstream, inexpensive chocolate contain artificial vanilla called vanillin. It is a byproduct of paper mills — sludge from these factories. For many children, it causes the same reactions as synthetic dyes. So just be careful and watch for that!

  • In reading the following, it makes me wonder if we really can get away from it UNLESS we go organic (which for some isn’t easy or a viable option)

    Limited use

    The following dyes are only allowed by the FDA for specific limited applications:

    Orange B (red shade) – allowed only for use in hot dog and sausage casings.
    Citrus Red 2 (orange shade) – allowed only for use to color orange peels.

    [edit] Delisted/Disallowed

    FD&C Red No. 2 – Amaranth
    FD&C Red No. 4[11][12]
    FD&C Red No. 32‎ was used to color Florida oranges.[6][11]
    FD&C Orange Number 1 was one of the first water soluble dyes to be commercialized, and one of seven original food dyes allowed under the Pure Food and Drug Act of June 30, 1906.[6][11]
    FD&C Orange No. 2‎ was used to color Florida oranges.[6]
    FD&C Yellow No. 1, 2, 3, and 4[11]
    FD&C Violet No. 1[11]

  • Jamie

    Does anyone know if there’s a change.org petition for influencing the FDA to ban dyes? I searched and didn’t find anything.

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