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Foods to Dye For

by Page Remick

© Page Remick – All Rights reserved


Early food ‘producers’ used colored dyes to disguise low quality or spoiled goods. Most of the colors were natural. In the 1800’s metal-based dyes such as arsenic were used in pickles and candy. Now, coal tar derivatives and petroleum distillates are used to give processed foods ‘color’.

What dyes are we eating? What foods are these dyes in? How can they affect us?
FD means food & drug; C means for cosmetics.

  • FD & C Yellow No. 5 – breakfast cereal, jams, snack foods, packaged soups, gelatin desserts, dry drink powders, candy, ice cream, spaghetti, bakery products, pudding. May cause palpitations, weakness, hives, itching and in children, irritability, restlessness and sleep disturbances. People allergic to aspirin can be allergic to this dye. This is derived from petroleum distillates.

  • FD & C Yellow No. 6 – bakery items, cereals, snack foods, desserts, drinks, ice cream, canned fish, some medications. Possible side effects are abdominal discomfort, allergies, hyperactivity, hives, kidney tumors, nausea and vomiting. This is derived from petroleum distillates.

  • FD & C Yellow No. 10 – colognes, hair products, lipstick, medications. Banned in the U.S.

  • FD & C Blue No. 1 – dairy products, jellies, icings, syrups, extracts, drinks, sweets (banned in many countries, except the U.S.) An artificial (synthetic) food dye of bright blue hue derived from petroleum distillates. Inadequately tested. Current studies suggest a small cancer risk.

  • FD & C Blue No. 2 – (used in textile dyeing and printing) baked goods, ice cream, cereals, snack food, confections, cherries. May cause nausea vomiting, high blood pressure. Derived from petroleum distillates. Suspected of causing brain tumors in animals. Banned in Norway.

  • FD & C Red No. 2 – used in cake mixes. Can encourage asthma and hyperactivity. Documented cases of birth defects, Red Dye # 2 showed that extremely small amounts of Red Dye # 2 caused birth defects, stillbirths, fetal deaths, and sterility in rats. This is now banned in the U.S.

  • FD & C Red No. 3 - used in dental labs, radiologic imaging, printing inks and food dye. Found in sweets, baked goods, condiment and snack foods. Can cause sensitivity to light and thyroid hormone levels. May lead to hyperthyroidism. Consumption of Red No. 3, which has estrogen-like growth stimulatory properties and may be genotoxic, could be a significant risk factor in human breast carcinogenesis. Ladies, Red No. 40 is commonly substituted for Red No. 3.

  • FD & C Red No. 40 – orange soda, cosmetics, donuts, tattoo ink. The National Cancer Institute reported that p-credine, a chemical used in preparation of Red #40, is carcinogenic in animals. The FDA permanently listed Red #40 for use in foods and ingested drugs but only temporarily listed it for cosmetics and external drugs.

The preceding is only a small list of the various dyes that are used in foods, medicines, cosmetics and body products to make them look appealing. Considering all processed foods, most cosmetics and grocery store body and hair products contain chemicals and additives, it is no wonder colors are needed to make them appear edible and attractive.

Nature is filled with healthy colors and ingredients. If you want to stay healthy, eat and use natural and organic products and foods. Stay away from dyes that are used to disguise unattractive, nutritionless and synthetic ingredients.

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