Foods – To Dye For!

What do strawberry Jello, orange Koolaid, raspberry soda, grape popsicles, much candy and baked goods, most brands of ice cream, maraschino cherries, many snack foods, and most pet food have in common? They are laced with millions of pounds of artificial coal-tar based dyes with names such as Red 3, Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, and Red 40.

Each year, Americans eat (as food dyes), swallow (as pill coatings or medicinal syrups) or rub on themselves (as cosmetics) 6.4 million pounds of these 7 dyes, mostly in food.

That was in 1985. In 2005, Americans consumed more than 17.8 million pounds of these dyes.) Four of these food dyes (Red 3, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, and Blue 2) which make up over half of the food dyes used each year have been shown to cause cancer as have other dyes which are not used in food but are used in drugs or cosmetics.


In July 1976, the FDA Division of Consumer Studies published a report concerning the ingestion of food dyes by children in the United States. Some of their findings follow:

95-99% of children eat some food containing coal-tar (petroleum derived) food dyes.
Over 4 million children will have consumed a total of more than one pound of coal-tar food dyes by the time they are 12 years old.
The maximum consumption of food dyes by children is as high as three pounds by age 12.

The government has refused to take dangerous dyes out of your food, drugs and cosmetics, but there are several steps you can take to protect yourself and your family:

1. Avoid using any foods with artificial dyes (“artificial coloring,” “U.S.Certified colors”) such as the seven listed in Table 2: Red 3, Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Yellow 5, Yellow 6 and Red 40.

2. The seven drug and cosmetic dyes which should be avoided, all “D&C” (drug and cosmetic dyes) are: Red 8, Red 9, Red 19, Red 36, Red 37, and Orange 17. Read the ingredient list on cosmetics (if it is there) before using them.

3. Avoid yielding to arguments that only one in a million people using each of these dyes will get cancer at the doses used in foods, drugs, or cosmetics. For all of these dyes, for all people using them, this amounts to well over 1000 cases of cancer. In addition, hundreds of thousands of people are extremely allergic to Yellow 5 or Yellow 6 and small amounts, even a few thousandths of a gram, can cause severe reactions in some of these people. (Don’t forget that the amount you and your children are exposed to today is many times higher than what you were exposed to as a child, and there is no valid study showing that long term exposure to even low levels of these additives is safe.)

4. Write your Senator and Congressperson asking them what they are doing to push the government to obey the food safety laws and ban these dyes.


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