From bright Easter eggs to delicious red velvet cake, food dyes have been part of our lives. The first thing to keep in mind is that food dyes are ubiquitous. From the rich brown of chocolate to the warm shades of the makeup you use, food dyes are added to pretty much everything. While they may seem harmless, a bright spot in the dish or the medicine, these dyes come with health risks and dangers.

This is because dyes are man-made, normally a mixture of chemicals and petroleum. Imagine ingesting this in any quantity, big or small. The most widely found culprits are Red 40, Yellow 6 and Yellow 5. What is more worrying is the fact that food dye consumption has gone up 500 percent in just the last fifty years.


Among children, dyes have been connected to aggressive behaviour, hyperactive actions, certain learning issues and allergies. There has also been seen, a correlation between ADD and food dyes.  The underlying issue of sensitivity to food dyes can result in any number of issues for children, from sneezing and itching, to allergies and shock, which may warrant trips to the hospital.  What’s more, these dyes come loaded with things kids like- a lot of sugar and a lot of fat. This, in turn, contributes to the problem of obesity.

Food dyes have a serious side effect- Cancer.  In a series of animal studies, many numbers of cancers, including bladder tumours was connected to the use of food dyes. While human trails have not found a link, there is a strong belief that the two are connected in humans as well. The good news, as it were, is that this possibility has encouraged big producers to eschew the use of food dyes in their products.

Many other dyes are connected to other health problems- the bright yellow you see in certain foods is a result of auramine, a known growth retardant with connection to liver and kidney damage. Metanil yellow can affect the reproductive organs, and lead chromate may cause poisoning and anaemia.

One of the biggest toxins in food dyes is Red Dye 40, or Red 40 as it’s more commonly known. You will see it in your bright red cough syrup, and virtually every red soft drink and soda that you consume. Red lipsticks to eye shadows and blush contain Red 40. When mixed with other colours, Red 40 lends itself to chips, candy, pickles and other objects.  Like many of the other food dyes, this one too is connected to any number of issues, ranging from hives and other allergies, to hyperactivity in adults and in children. In the latter group, food dyes can cause hyperactive behaviour regardless of whether the child has ADHD or ADD. Apart from this, a consumer may feel dizzy or nauseous, might come down with blinding headaches and migraines and exhibit a general irritability too.

It’s vital to read up on different food dyes and their many terms, to check the label on the products you buy and equip yourself with potentially life-saving information.

 

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