The dangers of artificial food colors

Filed in: Article, health-hazards, healthy-kids, lifestyle.

Should the FDA be so permissive with chemicals in food, suspicious or not, that is little more than marketing? "Ask The Daily Green." This question is particularly pertinent considering that dyes have not always proven to be harmless.

Citrus Red 2, Red 3, Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 1, Blue 2 and Green 3, which include some of the most commonly used artificial food dyes, have been identified as contaminated or contaminated with them. Possible cancer-causing chemicals, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest. And it is known that Blue 1, Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 trigger reactions in people with allergies.

The story paints an ugly color portrait of food.

Until the twentieth century, the coloring of food could only be obtained from what people found in nature. The ancient Romans used saffron and other spices to put a rich yellow color in various foods. Other natural colors often used include paprika, turmeric, beetroot extract and petals of various flowers.

But many of the other natural products often used were not only unappetizing, they were absolutely dangerous. Bakers added chalk to whiten bread, for example, and candy makers loaded candies with vermilion (containing mercury), red lead, white lead, verdigris (which is a copper salt), blue vitriol (containing copper) and Scheele green (which contains both copper and arsenic).

The science of food coloring evolved from there and the technology created a new type of dye derived from coal tar, a waste product of coal gas and coke. Synthetic dyes became known in coal tar colors and are what we still use today.

At the beginning of the 20th century, some 695 of these had been synthesized, and more than 80 were in the market. Although in general they were a safer alternative to metal salts and were used in smaller quantities, they were not yet regulated.

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In 1938, the responsibility to regulate and enforce color was granted to the newly established Food and Drug Administration. At that time, there were 15 synthetic colors approved for use in food, 6 of which are still used today.

Modern food dyes have their own problems.

While manufacturers no longer added mercury or arsenic to their products, the dangers of coloring food took center stage, and again, in the 1950s, many children became sick from eating Halloween candy that contained orange dye. The FDA banned the color after more rigorous tests suggested it was toxic

Red 32 and Orange 2 were also eliminated due to the same Halloween incident, according to the article by Harvard Law School, The palette of our palates: A brief history of food coloring and its regulation.

The controversy continued when, in 1976, the agency banned Red 2 because it was suspected of being carcinogenic, according to The New York Times.

Since then, other colors have been banned in the USA. UU., Among them: Violet 1; Reds 2 and 4; The yellow 1, 2, 3 and 4, and Yellow 5 are being tested, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica

The FDA decided to eliminate Network 2 from the provisional list in 1976, after the conflicting studies were published. Some studies showed that the dye was safe and others showed that it was not safe and, in fact, caused tumors in the sinuses and intestines in rats and was toxic to gonads and embryos. The FDA removed the list indicating that the color industry had not fulfilled its burden of proving the safety of Network 2.

Yellow 5 was the successor of Red 2 in popularity. The color, sometimes called Tartrazine, also had its own problems. It was one of the dyes pointed out in 1977 by Ralph Nader's Public Citizens Health Research Group as insecure. The group noted the elimination of the list of Network 2 and Network 4 of the previous year as evidence that dyes that we consider "safe" are often shown as toxic.

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While the FDA said that Public Citizen was "exaggerating the problem and causing a public alarm that is simply not justified," they simultaneously admitted that Yellow 5 caused severe allergic reactions in a small number of people.

Is the FDA doing a better job today?

The FDA suggested that the problems associated with artificial coloring could be similar to a peanut allergy or intolerance to these substances and not to the inherent toxic properties of the same dyes, the New York Times said.

This may not be accurate, according to a study by the University of Southampton in 2004 covered by the BBC. A team of researchers found that adding food colors to children's diets increased the rates of hyperactivity in all young children, not just those who were allergic to food dyes or who had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

"I want this to address a fundamental problem that is" Why do we have to eat colored foods? ", Said Professor John Warner, author of the study.

"It is absolutely imperative to have follow-up studies because now we are not just talking about a population of children with a particular problem, we are saying that there is a possibility that this affects all children," he said. "And, if that's really the case, then you should eliminate the food coloring."

Consumers can avoid synthetic food dyes by checking labels at grocery stores or buying from chains such as Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe's, which refuse to sell food with artificial colors.


Tags: health risks, healthy children, Lifestyle

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