What to look for – Artificial Coloring

Food coloring spreading on a thin water film i...
Food coloring spreading on a thin water film in the International Space Station. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was asked by a friend if I could list which products have artificial dyes in them. I am afraid I am not patient enough to go through all the possible food items but will give some good links to the info that I have read on the effects and dangers of food additives, in particular artificial colorings.

I have always thought of myself as a fairly healthy eating kind of person, but have found, instead, that through the years and the “need” for convenience I have allowed many convenience foods into our home and diet. When I started giving artificial dyes the boot, I found I had to be aware of the different types of dyes, which ones were the “worst” and then look on every single ingredient list on every single food item if it were not from the produce department itself. Even then, did you know that oranges are dyed? The peel anyways.

Wikipedia has a great little rundown of the basics. Go there first. I would highlight that synthetic colors are made from petroleum and coal tar. That alone makes me go…wha? Also, in bold they list dyes that are the known suspects to cause behavioral issues. Namely, Blue No.1, Red No. 40 (which is used in most of the candy etc out there), Yellow No.5 (tartrazine) and Yellow No. 6.

Personally, if a food has “artificial coloring/dyes” listed I just say no. Oh, I have used tomato soup (which surprisingly does use coloring) and ketchup occasionally and it seems to be ok, but to be safe, I limit them.

The list of foods that contain the “bad dyes” is seemingly endless. I have found them in potato chips, chocolate cake mixes, noodle mixes, cereal, “natural” juices, fruit snacks, jams and jellies and those are the things that didn’t seem obvious to me like Jello and Kool-Aid.

Interestingly, artificial food dyes have been banned in many European countries. In fact, I read that the United States must make it’s products with natural food colorings if it exports them to Great Britain. I cannot remember where I read that but will be looking for it to link up here.

If you would like to cut artificial food coloring from your diet my advice is to be familiar with the different names for the dyes and look at the labels. It’s a lot of work but trying to KEEP it out is even more difficult. As I mentioned in the last post, schools, churches and other people’s’ houses are all littered with it. I cannot control everything that goes into my children’s’ mouths so I just grin (not) and bear the behavior when we know it’s been ingested. If I don’t know it’s been consumed, I am sure to find out with all sorts of behaviors. Like I mentioned yesterday, I didn’t even know that my 8 yr old had consumed it until I asked her after a rash of craziness. I told her that I knew she didn’t want to be like that and that it’s one of the big reasons we are eliminating colors from our diets. She seemed to (try and) understand.




4 thoughts on “What to look for – Artificial Coloring

  1. pickles. They have color in them. It is crazy what has color. Keep in mind that at times “they” add color to white things to make it white!! yogert. We are not color free but we are doing our best to limit color and aftifical flavor and perservitives. (my spelling is nasty – sorry!) Marcy you could maybe have someone like my sister write a LONG posting on this and how it has changed thier lives!!

    1. Thanks Joy! It is crazy what has color in them. I’ve seen color in Ranch dressing too. It’s white for petes sake, leave the “color” out of it! 🙂

  2. Actually Heinz ketchup does not contain artificial color surprisingly, and some pickles are fine. Organic oranges are fine – and we also haven’t had problems with normal oranges either. Let’s see, food with artificial color in them that I was surprised to have to eliminate; yogurt, chocolate milk, preshredded cheese, some cheddar cheeses, margarine (which doesn’t always have colour, but is a petrolium product), hot chocolate mix, cereals, pudding mixes and premade pudding.
    Red colour is pretty bad, but we have found that Yellow #5 also called tartrazine is a pretty big killer in this house.

    1. Thank you Faith! I have a friend in my town who is eliminating it (as much as you can) from her son’s diet and said “I guess I”ll have to buy Kraft now because they put the color numbers on the label”. Which I hadn’t noticed 🙂 Those are all things that I’ve found it in too. Thanks for the more detailed list than I provided.

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