It is everywhere and so attractive, especially to kids, which is apparent as it can be found in almost every seasonal or birthday treat option made for kids. But it is not just found in treats. You might find it in your yogurt, cereal, sauces, condiments, hot dogs, canned fruit, or even your choice hot specialty beverage!
I wish I had good news and that it was harmless… but here’s what the studies say, plus a few fun facts:
1. Food dyes are made from petroleum, among other strange ingredients.
2. Food dyes have been found to be carcinogenic, genotoxic, and may even affect activity and attention in children.
3. There is ample research available at anyone’s fingertips stating that, for example, “The inadequacy of much of the testing and evidence for carcinogenicity, genotoxicity, and hypersensitivity, coupled with the fact that dyes do not improve the safety or nutritional quality of foods, indicates that all of the currently used dyes should be removed from the food supply and replaced, if at all, by safer colorings. It is recommended that regulatory authorities require better and independent toxicity testing, exercise greater caution regarding continued approval of these dyes, and in the future approve only well-tested, safe dyes.” (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/23026007/)
4. Even so, food dyes continue to be permitted for use in Canada (you can find a list on Canada’s food inspection agency website.)
5. There are ways to make your own food colouring at home that are much less dangerous. For example, purple can be made from blueberries, green from spinach, pink from beets, yellow from turmeric or saffron, and blue from red cabbage and baking soda.
Make sure to read labels to avoid these ingredients that shouldn't be in there in the first place!
And if you're a parent, can we all agree to keep this stuff out of our shared treats at school?