Synthetic colors (aka synthetic dyes) = nasty nasty. When you spot ingredients such as red 30 lake, red 33 lake, yellow 5 lake, blue 1 lake on a food or beauty product, stay far, far, ever so away! These synthetic colors are derived from coal tar, a waste product of coal when it is carbonized to make coke or gasified to produce coal gas. So when you imagine artificial colors, if you imagine tar, you would not be far off
We have solid evidence that coal tar causes cancer in humans and that compounds in coal tar are toxic for marine life. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, preparations that include more than five percent of crude coal tar are Group 1 carcinogens. Yikes!
Synthetic dyes are known as coal tar colors and they have been shown to possess an array of noxious health consequences, from ADHD to chromosomal damage to cancer!
While a few dyes have been banned in the United States, other commonly used colors, such as red 40, blue 1, green 3, yellows 1,2,3 and 4, and yellow 5 are still legal even though they are pernicious. Organ damage, birth defects, allergic reactions and yes, cancer have been linked to these legalized colors. Even synthetic dyes considered “relatively safe” by the industry (which is bias) are later discovered to be toxic upon the completion of more comprehensive studies. Hey I’m usually all for more freedom of choice, but not when it comes to the freedom to use such gross and harmful chemicals. FDA, this is not rocket science. This stuff is harmful and should not be allowed in our food or cosmetics!
The unsettling reality is that many of the animal cancer studies on yellow 6, yellow 5, red 40, green 3, and blue 2 were either commissioned or conducted by dye manufacturers, short duration, and lack of exposure to dyes during fetal development. Hence, we are dealing with fishy results. Results so fishy that I can practically smell the artificially colored raw sushi in the air. Obviously, the best action is to avoid these dyes and be safe rather than sorry.
Red 40 (Allura Red), yellow 5 (Tartrazine) and blue 1 (Brilliant Blue) are three of the most popular FDA-approved dyes found in both food and cosmetics, and even unexpected places like vitamins and laundry detergent! Synthetic colors really are found in the most unsuspecting places, so it’s up to us to read labels and stay clear of any products made with these ingredients.
Here are some of the most common food dyes used in food and cosmetics today to look out for:
1) Blue #1 (Brilliant Blue) ~ An unpublished study suggested the possibility that Blue 1 caused kidney tumors in mice. EWWWW. Can you imagine what must occur when we ingest this in our own bodies with a slew of other synthetic colors? Where you can find it: baked goods, beverages, dessert powders, candies, cereal, drugs, and other products.
2) Green #3 (Fast Green)~ Caused significant increases in bladder and testes tumors in male rats. Where you will find it: drugs, personal care products, cosmetic products except in eye area, candies, beverages, ice cream, sorbet, ingested drugs, lipsticks, and externally applied cosmetics.
3) Red #40 (Allura Red)~ This is the most-widely used and consumed dye. It may accelerate the appearance of immune system tumors in mice. It also causes hypersensitivity (allergy-like) reactions in some consumers and might trigger hyperactivity in children. Where you will find it: beverages, bakery goods, dessert powders, candies, cereals, foods, drugs, and cosmetics.
4) Yellow #5 (Tartrazine) ~ Causes sometimes-severe hypersensitivity reactions and might trigger hyperactivity and other behavioral effects in children. Where you will find it: Pet foods, numerous bakery goods, beverages, dessert powders, candies, cereals, gelatin desserts, and many other foods, as well as pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.
5) Yellow #6 (Sunset Yellow) ~ Caused adrenal tumors in animals and occasionally causes severe hypersensitivity reactions. Where you will find it: colored baked goods, cereals, beverages, dessert sprinkles, candies, gelatin desserts, sausage, cosmetics, vitamins and drugs.
6) Red #3 (Erythrosine) ~ Recognized in 1990 by the FDA as a thyroid carcinogen in animals and is banned in cosmetics and externally applied drugs. Where you will find it: sausage casings, oral medication, maraschino cherries, baked goods, and candies. What is striking about this is that it permitted in food, yet banned in cosmetics!
Here are a few note-worthy findings I’ve discovered on “operation learn as much as possible about synthetic dyes” research hunt:
1) E-numbered synthetic dyes have been shown to harm children’s brains as much as lead in gasoline! This damage led to a significant, measurably lower reduction in IQ. So sad!
2) A total of 15 million pounds of dyes are added to the U.S. food supply every year. Can you imagine how much dye that it? If you are consuming processed foods and wearing conventional makeup regularly, this is a lot of dye entering your body. Talk about a gross thought!
3) The dyes we see everywhere in America are banned in countries like France, Finland, Norway and Sweden.
The most ironic thing is that colors named, “sunset yellow” and “allura red” are anything but happy, sunshiny or alluring. “Sunset yellow” has been found to cause eczema, hives, hyperactivity, thyroid tumors, allergies and more. I think you will be able to agree with me that there is no sunshine in that!
1. Center for Science in the Public Interest. Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks.
2. Artificial food colouring and hyperactivity symptoms in children. Prescrire Int. 2009 Oct;18(103):215.
Schab DW, Trinh NH. Do artificial food colors promote hyperactivity in children with hyperactive syndromes? A meta-analysis of double-blind placebo-controlled trials. J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2004 Dec;25(6):423-34.
3. McCann D, Barrett A, Cooper A, et al. Food additives and hyperactive behavior in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the community: a randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial. Lancet. 2007 Nov 3;370(9598):1560-7.
4. CSPI Says Food Dyes Pose Rainbow of Risks.
5. Special Education Degrees. Colors To Die For: The Dangerous Impact of Food Coloring.