Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Aritificial Food Coloring: Is it safe for our kids?

I've been a long time believer that artificial anything in our foods is not ok. Why would I want to feed my kids preservatives and additives and chemicals? Why would I want to eat anything like that?!

Of course the FDA says that everything in our food is fine, no worries. certain ok.  But that's just the thing.  If you have a little bit of preservatives from this food and a little bit from that one and then a little bit more from your hair products (which seeps into your body) and a little bit from your favorite fast food joint, by the end of the day it's quite possible that your body has been overloaded on some nasty chemically altered...stuff.  Add in the high fructose corn syrup, the additives, the genetically modified meat and milk, a dash of nutri-sweet and a good ol' fashioned truck load of food dyes and you are sure to end up with an unhealthy body.

There is a lot of back and forth about if anything I even said above is true. They say no, we say yes...I'm not sure if we'll ever agree. I often wonder, if these things are so bad for us, why are they allowed in our food and personal care products?!  It doesn't make any sense!

That's where we have to step in and make a decision for our families. We have to do what makes the most sense to us. My golden rule of food is "If you can't read it, don't eat it."  And, though I'm not perfect in it (I love me some nasty junk food) I do try to stick to it with the foods and drinks we consume most often.

There seems to be a shift in the thinking about food dyes right now.  The FDA has started looking into the issue rather than just saying it's 100% not a problem, it sounds like they are starting to consider otherwise.  Which is a small but important step. Here is an article in the NY Times online that discusses the latest issues with food dyes and the idea that it causes negative behaviors in kids.

I agree all the way that food dyes are affecting our kids' behaviors. I've seen it in action in other kids and my own.  I would encourage you all to try omitting foods with dyes in them for a week and see if you notice a difference in your kids.  There are plenty of products out there that use all natural dyes. If you notice a change, make the switch and then consider weeding out products that use other unhealthy options like high fructose corn syrup. Even if you don't see a drastic change in behavior, look closer...are your kids sleeping better? less whiny? less likely to melt down? having fewer emotional out burts? It's not just about hyperactivity when it comes to what stuff in your food is affecting your kids.

Think about it, make a change. Just knowing that you are making healthier choices for your kids' health is going to feel great.


  1. Thanks for the excellent read. I am a firm believer that artificial dyes affect children- at least some of them. Years ago my one nephew was incredibly hyper after taking some cough medication. My sis-in-law mentioned this to his dr. and in passing the dr. mentioned that the dye Red #40 can cause that and that the cough med. had that in it.

    My sis-in-law immediately started eliminating Red#40 from my nephews diet and he seriously was a different child! That was probably 6-8 years ago and he is old enough now that he CHOOSES to avoid Red#40 because he knows he feels hyper and awful when he has it. The interesting thing is that their other 3 children seeminly have no affect when they eat things with Red #40.

    This sentence in the NY Times article jumped out at me: "Artificial dyes were developed — just as aspirin was — from coal tar, but are now made from petroleum products. " Petroleum? Um, no thanks!

    Oh and one more thing. I was happy to see that Pepperridge Farm fish now are colored with natural coloring. I hope more companies follow suit!

  2. Lydia - I thought the same thing about the line in the times mentioning the petroleum! Ew! I know my boys have had reactions to dyes in cough syrups before too. The Red dyes seem to be the worst of all!

  3. I have always suspected that one of my children had a sensitivity to red #40 so after this all came out in the news I decided it was time to make a conscious choice for our family and eliminate it all together from our house. I thought it would mean we had to shop totally organic (read $$$) but I was able to do it with a mix of regular and organic items at my normal grocery store. The first time I went food shopping it did take me almost 2 hours to read all the labels. Good-bye marshmellows (blue #2) - no more rice krispie treats :(

    Not only did I eliminate Red #40, but all artificial coloring - blue #1, #2, yellow, etc. We have been doing now for over a month and I can tell you it definitely make a difference in my child. On the days when we/he slips up (a Popsicle give out at school...sigh) I see a change in his behavior.

    My other child seems not to be as bothered by it, but it is all for one, one for all in our house. An interesting note the one who is sensitive also has a food allergy so perhaps it was already in his genetic make up.

  4. It's amazing to me that we moms can see something affecting our kids so obviously yet the FDA says there is no truth to it! Ahhh! So frustrating.

  5.  To think that ingesting a petroleum produce will not cause adverse reaction over time is ridiculous. Anyone would be hard pressed to find a regular food on the market that does not contain some sort of food dye. It is in everything we eat. It is said that an average human being eats about 11 pounds of toxic chemicals each year and we wonder why ADD, ADHD, Bipolar and Cancer are growing at an alarming rate. There is absolutely no reason to add a petroleum product (food coloring) to anything we eat. The only reason the manufacturers do it is strictly marketing related.  They have performed studies that show the human brain perceives bright colors like we see in nature, apples, grapes, oranges, tomatoes as good for our bodies. Therefore if they add color to it and make it brighter, human instinct kicks in and our brains crave it. In reality we are slowly killing ourselves and our children.
    I absolutely hate when I read articles that state there are no studies that show food coloring is harmful. That is just the FDA’s way of saying the lobbyist have more power than you do. I have a child that began to act out with aggression and behaviors that were not natural, nor logical. We struggled for years as he was kicked out of daycare after daycare. As a last resort we took him to a doctor who diagnosed him as bipolar and put him on medication. We hated this but at the time; it was all we could do. We did not want him to hurt himself or anyone else. At one point he jumped out of a car at stoplight on a busy street because we passed a toy store and he was mad that we did not go there. After he was placed on medication, his issues lessened but did not go away completely. After about a year on the medication, he went through about a three week period where he slid back into the uncontrollable personality that he had been before the medication. I began to look at what had changed. I realized that a family member had given us a case of the little orange crackers and a case of a well known ranch flavored potato chips (I don’t want to mention names). Our kids at these standard US snacks at the rate of about 5 or six packages a day during those three weeks. I began to put two and two together and realized the common denominator was food coloring. We removed all foods with artificial food coloring, which by the way was not as easy as it sounds, and within a few days our child was calmed, sweet, and caring again. The few times he had a meltdown was directly related to a food with dye in it. One time we could not figure out why he was acting out, all he had was pizza. Then I found out there is yellow dye in pizza crust. Why you might ask? So it looks pretty and your brain tells you it is healthy food.
    I find it amazing as I look around and kids are cramming cupcakes with bright blue frosting in their mouths at alarming rates, while the parents stand there and say, “I don’t know why everyone things little Johnny is ADD. Where did I go wrong?” … Really? I challenge you to walk in your local convenience store and find an item without artificial dye and by the why “Carmel coloring” found in many products is not natural either, it just sounds like it is.
    Wake up America! The FDA has to quite playing the lobbyist money game while our children are the pawns.

  6. Chris - thanks for sharing your story. I am so relieved that you made the link between your son's behavior and food dyes. I am hoping that more stories like yours help other parents as well. Thanks so much!


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