Quantcast

Are Artificial Food Dyes Safe?


Health + Wellness

Do Food Dyes Cause Allergies?

Some artificial food dyes can cause allergic reactions (28, 33, 34, 35).

In multiple studies, Yellow 5—also known as tartrazine—has been shown to cause hives and asthma symptoms (36, 37, 38, 39).

Interestingly, people who have an allergy to aspirin seem to be more likely to also be allergic to Yellow 5 (37, 38).

In a study conducted in people with chronic hives or swelling, 52 percent had an allergic reaction to artificial food dyes (40).

Most allergic reactions are not life-threatening. However, if you have symptoms of an allergy, it may be beneficial to remove artificial food dyes from your diet.

Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 are among the most commonly consumed dyes and are the three most likely to cause an allergic response (3).

Bottom Line: Some artificial food dyes, particularly Blue 1, Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6, may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.

Should You Avoid Food Dyes?

The most concerning claim about artificial food dyes is that they cause cancer.

However, the evidence to support this claim is weak. Based on the research currently available, it is unlikely that consuming food dyes will cause cancer.

Certain food dyes cause allergic reactions in some people, but if you do not have any symptoms of an allergy, there is no reason to eliminate them from your diet.

The claim about food dyes that has the strongest science to back it up is the connection between food dyes and hyperactivity in children.

Several studies have found that food dyes increase hyperactivity in children with and without ADHD, although some children seem to be more sensitive than others (1).

If your child has hyperactive or aggressive behavior, it may be beneficial to remove artificial food dyes from their diet.

The reason dyes are used in food is to make food look more attractive. There is absolutely no nutritional benefit of food dyes.

Nevertheless, there is not enough evidence to support that everyone should be avoiding artificial food dyes.

That said, it always helps to eat healthy. The biggest sources of food dyes are unhealthy processed foods that have other negative effects on health.

Removing processed foods from your diet and focusing on healthy whole foods will improve your overall health and drastically decrease your intake of artificial food dyes in the process.

Bottom Line: Food dyes are likely not dangerous for most people, but avoiding processed foods that contain dyes can improve your overall health.

Healthy Whole Foods Are Naturally Free of Dyes

The best way to remove artificial food dyes from your diet is to focus on eating whole, unprocessed foods.

Unlike processed foods, most whole foods are highly nutritious.

Here are a few foods that are naturally dye-free:

  • Dairy and eggs: Milk, plain yogurt, cheese, eggs, cottage cheese.
  • Meat and poultry: Fresh, unmarinated chicken, beef, pork and fish.
  • Nuts and seeds: Unflavored almonds, macadamia nuts, cashews, pecans, walnuts, sunflower seeds.
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables: All fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Grains: Oats, brown rice, quinoa, barley.
  • Legumes: Black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, navy beans, lentils.

If you want to avoid all dyes in your diet, always read the label before you eat a food. Some seemingly healthy foods contain artificial food dyes.

Bottom Line: Most whole foods are highly nutritious and naturally free of artificial dyes.

Take Home Message

There is no conclusive evidence that food dyes are dangerous for most people.

Nevertheless, they may cause allergic reactions in some people and hyperactivity in sensitive children.

However, most food dyes are found in unhealthy processed foods that should be avoided anyway.

Instead, focus on eating nutritious whole foods that are naturally dye-free.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Authority Nutrition.

Prev Page

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Students hold a Youth Strike for Climate Change Protest in London, UK on May 24. Dinendra Haria / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images

The New York City public schools will allow their 1.1 million students to skip school for Friday's global climate strike, The New York Times reported Monday.

Read More Show Less
The 16-year-old Swede Greta Thunberg speaks during her protest action for more climate protection with a reporter. Steffen Trumpf / picture alliance / Getty Images

By Mark Hertsgaard and Kyle Pope

It's been 30 years since Bill McKibben rang the warning bells about the threat of man-made climate change — first in a piece in The New Yorker, and then in his book, The End of Nature.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
At the International Motor Show (IAA), climate protestors are calling for a change in transportation politics. © Kevin McElvaney / Greenpeace

Thousands of protestors marched in front of Frankfurt's International Motor Show (IAA) on Saturday to show their disgust with the auto industry's role in the climate crisis. The protestors demanded an end to combustion engines and a shift to more environmentally friendly emissions-free vehicles, as Reuters reported.

Read More Show Less
Setting and testing the line protections for Siemens SF6 gas insulated switchgear in 2007. Xaf / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Electricity from renewable sources is growing exponentially as the technology allows for cheaper and more efficient energy generation, but there is a dark side that has the industry polluting the most powerful greenhouse gas known to humanity, as the BBC reported.

Read More Show Less
Ella Olsson / Pexels

By Elizabeth Streit, MS, RDN, LD

Sweet and regular potatoes are both tuberous root vegetables, but they differ in appearance and taste.

They come from separate plant families, offer different nutrients, and affect your blood sugar differently.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Scientists in Saskatchewan found that consuming small amounts of neonicotinoids led white-crowned sparrows to lose significant amounts of weight and delay migration, threatening their ability to reproduce. Jen Goellnitz / Flickr

By Julia Conley

In addition to devastating effects on bee populations and the pollination needed to feed humans and other species, widely-used pesticides chemically related to nicotine may be deadly to birds and linked to some species' declines, according to a new study.

Read More Show Less

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's government is set to unveil a package of measures on Friday, Sept. 20, to ensure that the country cuts its greenhouse gas emissions 55% by 2030, compared with the 1990 levels.

Read More Show Less
Assorted plastic bottles. mali maeder / Pexels

California ended its 2019 legislative session Saturday without passing two bills that would have led the nation in tackling plastic pollution, The Mercury News reported.

Read More Show Less