With so many products containing dyes, it’s important to know what you are putting in and on your body. I can tell you from personal experience, my daughter has experienced skin sensitivity and allergies to some of the dyes that I will review here – all of which have been the subject of controversy. The FDA has also looked into the link between dyes and hyperactive behavior in children, but for now, these colors remain widely in use.
RED #40 – Allura Red. It’s an artificial color and one of the most commonly used in food, cosmetics and drugs. Many food companies that use red 40 in the US, do not use that same dye for products sold outside the states. They opt for a natural or plant based dye instead. Red 40 can lead to hypersensitivity causing swelling & hives in people. Hyperactivity in children and possible changes to DNA have been shown in some studies.
YELLOW #5 – is an Azo dye (called this because of it’s Azo chemical structure R-N=N-R). Also known as Tartrazine (food yellow 4 or E102). Yellow #5 is bad for asthmatics & people with an aspirin intolerance. Found in most products with artificial yellow or green coloring (peeps, kool aid, Doritos, hand sanitizer, puddings, lemon fillings, mustard, horseradish, Mountain Dew, macaroni & cheese, processed cheese, etc). Does yellow #5 lower sperm count? Possibly. Studies have both supported & denied this claim. Yellow #5 may cause hyperactivity in children. FDA regularly seizes foods that do not declare this ingredient.
BLUE #1 – Brilliant Blue. FDA issued an alert of reports of toxicity including death in 2003. Here the dye was used in a feeding tube. Dye is approved for use in food, drugs and cosmetics. No reports of toxicity has come from routine use. It has a low overall hazard.
BLUE #2 Indigo Blue (natural form) or Ingotine (synthetic version made from petroleum). This is a low risk dye. Used in baked goods, cereals, snacks, candies, cherries. Howeever, the Ingotine (artificial) version is what causes concern because in 2007 it was linked to hyperactivity in children.
CITRUS RED #2 An artificial dye used to cope the skin of oranges. Is classified as a possible human carcinogen and is more of a hazard for people who work with this dye occupationally than on the consumer end. Avoid this by purchasing organic citrus fruits, or from a farm that does not dye its fruit if you don’t want artificially dyed oranges.