food dye

Two moms and food bloggers recently called on Kraft to remove Yellow Dye 5 and Yellow Dye 6 from its infamous line of cheese dinner products made for North American markets.

According to various reports, ingesting synthetic (petroleum-based) dyes has been linked with health and behavioural problems including allergic reaction, hyperactivity, skin rash, migraines, learning issues, and ADHD.

Controlled studies conducted over a span of three decades in the United States, Europe, and Australia showed similar symptoms that were caused or worsened by artificial colouring. However, bans only ever went through in the UK and Aus; in the U.S., despite concerns from experts, manufacturers continue to pour approximately 15 million pounds of synthetic dye into our food supply every year, and per capita consumption has actually increased five-fold since 1955 (mostly found in breakfast cereals, fruit drinks, and other items marketed to kids.)

According to Center for Science in the Public Interest, who unsuccessfully lobbyed the FDA for a ban in 2008, artificial food dyes of not just yellow but any colour create a “rainbow of risks”, besides offering no nutritional value. These moms noticed behavioural changes and physical reactions in their children after they had consumed products containing the Yellow 5 & 6 dyes.

In the UK, the same cheese dinner products made by Kraft do not contain dyes; for its European markets, the company uses natural beta-carotene and paprika to colour the products almost the same deep yellow color as its American counterparts, who get their shade selection via Yellow Dyes 5 & 6.

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Why the difference? Consumers in Europe demanded the company use ethical sources of food colouring.

Will the United States and Canada follow suit?

Another mom and medical writer recently wrote about her dye discoveries, following her daughter’s reactions to Red 40 and Yellow 5 in various products— from juices to pie crusts.

Experimenting by giving her foods made with the dyes and logging physical and behavioural reactions to them, the mom discovered the following responses:

  • Yellow dyes caused rashes, hyperactivity, and trouble sleeping.
  • Red dyes were followed by hyperactivity, (really) mean behavior, shaking and crying, and trouble sleeping. (AllergyKids)

Each year about 200,000 pounds of Red 3 are poured into such foods as Betty Crocker’s Fruit Roll-Ups and ConAgra’s Kid Cuisine frozen meals. Since 1985 more than five million pounds of the dye have been used. -CSPI

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A Kraft spokesperson told ABC News on Yellow Dyes 5 (often labeled as “Tartrazine”) & 6 that “We carefully follow the laws and regulations in the countries where our products are sold. So in the U.S., we only use colors that are approved and deemed safe for food use by the Food and Drug Administration.”

Fine, but we all know that the government is not a dependable force for deciding what is safe and what isn’t. Kraft and other manufacturers have to take accountability for their own products.

Sign the moms’ petition on Change.org.

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