How do they make boxed mac ‘n cheese look like it’s actually made with real cheese? Here are which food dyes to avoid, and why, from 1 Pound a Day: The Martha’s Vineyard Diet Detox and Plan for a Lifetime of Healthy Eating.
Food colorings are made from coal tar and petrochemicals. How unappetizing could an ingredient be? Some food colorings are carcinogenic and can affect enzymes. The European Union has labeling regulations for informing consumers of the health risks of these additives, but the United States does not. Food coloring is used in energy bars, cereal, beverages, candy, baked goods, jams, macaroni and cheese, deli meats, puddings, condiments, ice cream, sherbet, fast food. They are also used on meat and fish to make them appear fresher. There are seven colorings for which you should be on the lookout:
Red #3: is what gives the maraschino cherries in canned fruit salad such intense color. It has caused thyroid cancer in animal studies. The Food and Drug Administration advised that this food coloring be removed from the market, but the recommendation was overruled.
Red #40: has done damage to the liver, colon, and stomach in animal studies. It is suspected to be a carcinogen. Some children may be sensitive to this additive, which has been found to increase behavior issues, hyperactivity, and attention problems.
Blue #1: is a skin and eye irritant and an allergen. You will find it in beverages, candy, and baked goods.
Blue #2: has caused brain tumors in animal studies. It is an ingredient in pet food, candy, and beverages.
Yellow #6: has been linked to skin irritations, asthmatic reactions, adrenal gland and kidney tumors, and hyperactivity in children. It is used to color sausages, gelatin, candy, and baked goods.
Green #3: has caused tumors in animal studies. There is some controversy about this food coloring. More studies have to be done.
Caramel coloring: is produced by heating sugars. Sometimes ammonia is used in the process, and toxic byproducts are created. Those chemicals have been linked to cancer. Food companies are not required to reveal if they made the coloring with ammonia, so you do not know what you are consuming. Caramel coloring is used in colas, sauces, breads, and pastries.