The use of artificial dyes in food products has been a common practice since the days of ancient Egypt. As far back as 1500 B.C. substances such as red wine and mustard have been used to help improve the color of foods and fabrics, and the trade of such colors/herbs/dyes is a longstanding tradition. But what happens when the dyes used to enhance the colors of our foods are harmful to our health, particularly the wellbeing of our children?
In modern times, harmful chemicals are being used in the place of natural food-based elements in order to trick consumers into thinking that the food they are buying is of a higher quality than it really is. Shockingly, as of 2010,
over 15 million pounds of artificial food dyes find their way onto our dinner plates each year. To “paint” a clear picture (pun intended), items such as oranges are dyed to look less sickly and more fresh. Most cherries are soaked in chemicals such as calcium chloride and sulfur dioxide bleach until they turn pale, and are then cooked in large vats of high fructose corn syrup and Red #4 to give them their bright-red hue. And as Natural News elaborates: “Approximately 60%-70% of all dyes used in food and textile manufacturing are what are called azo dyes, processed from industrial waste. The ingredient responsible for the yellow color in many commercial pickles is the azo dye tartrazine, made from coal-tar derivatives. Many azo dyes are known to be mutagenic, meaning they cause mutations (changes in cell DNA). The National Cancer Institute has stated that mutagenic substances are carcinogens.” Helpful information about the harmful dyes found in pickles can be found in the book “Can I Get a Pickle Without Yellow 5 Please?” by Sarah Nichols, M.ed.
What’s most unsettling is that the United Kingdom has long-since banned the use of harmful dyes in their food, while the United States not only continues to include these poisons in their food-supply, but also allows companies to target these harmful products towards children in the form of commercials and online advertisements for brightly colored breakfast cereals, candies, soft drinks, juices, pastries, fruit snacks, ice-creams, and many more.
Despite research findings linking the use of artificial food dyes with behavioral problems and hyperactivity among children, the US continues to do very little to protect its citizens compared to European counties. Children’s food in the US is still likely to include: Yellow colors #5 and #6, Red #3 and #40, Blue colors #1 and #2, Green #3, and finally Orange B colors. These dyes are prevalent in US McDonald’s fast-food chains. Other research findings suggest that the use of colored dyes in food is associated with allergies, migraine headaches, and even the possibly of cancer in children, adults, and animals.
Processed meats such as hotdogs, bacon, and sausages may appear to be healthy and red as if the meat was “freshly slaughtered”, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. The distinctive pinkish-red color of these meats actually comes from chemical additives such as nitrites and nitrates, both of which are potentially toxic preservatives.
For example, a 2006 study found that people who regularly eat cured meats have a 71 percent greater chance of contracting lung disease than those who never eat cured meats. Another research show that nitrates and nitrites may also cause alzheimer’s, diabetes and parkinson’s disease.
As biohealthbase.com puts it: “The use of dyes as food coloring agents have many other functions such as being used as a flavor, simulation of color associated with the perception of the consumers. For instance, strawberry coloring in soft drinks, red dyes for drinks to simulate red cherries. Colors may also be used to offset loss of color as a result of the reaction with light, moisture and sometimes as a result of change in temperature. It is also used to enhance the natural color, boost attractiveness of food and make it more appetizing. It has also been used in branding of products with their colors for sweets, medicines and other products.”
**Image courtesy: Special-Education-Degree.Net