The food industry dumps over 15 million pounds of the dyes studied into the food supply each year. Three of the dyes carry known carcinogens, and 4 can cause serious allergic reactions in some consumers. New studies show that seven of them contributed to cancer in lab animals, including brain and testicular tumors, colon cancer, and mutations.
Food dyes contain carcinogens
Many artificial food dyes contain known human and animal carcinogens. For example, one carcinogen called benzidene is found in red 40, yellow 5, and yellow 6, and although it is regulated, the FDA’s tests may be underestimating our exposure to this toxic compound. Caramel colorings, containing 2- and 4-methylimidazoles induce cancer in animals, as well. Tartrazine, a yellow “azo” dye (found in yellow 5) is genotoxic, meaning it binds to DNA and causes damage.
Here are more “highlights” of some research findings on the main colors being used in the food industry today.
Blue 2: linked to brain tumors in mice
Green 3: linked to bladder cancer back in 1981
Yellow 3: known to cause some mild allergic reactions – especially in people who are sensitive to aspirin
Yellow 6: associated with cancer of the adrenal glands and kidneys as well as possible allergic reactions
Red 3: was considered for banning in 1983 because of a possible link to thyroid tumors
How to make Natural Food Coloring Safe for Ourselves
We’ve got great news! If you are looking to ‘color’ your food, there are many natural alternatives to artificial dyes and artificial food coloring. All of these natural food colors come from plant based fruits and vegetables, so they are completely healthy, nutritious and organic (if possible). The natural food colors are safe for both children and adults, and likely, will not alter the taste of your food or dish (unless you want it to). The safe and natural food colors can be mixed to create new colors and in most cases, should not cause any allergies. These food coloring alternatives can be easily prepared at home too!
Natural YELLOW Food Coloring > turmeric powder, yellow carrots, lemon zest, saffron flowers, bee pollen
Natural ORANGE Food Coloring > orange carrots, orange zest, carrot juice, pumpkin, papaya, cumin powder
Natural RED Food Coloring > red beets, chilli powder, strawberries and pomegranate
Natural PINK Food Coloring > beetroot, pomegranate powder and raspberries
Natural PURPLE Food Coloring > red grapes, organic red wine, red cabbage, purple carrots, purple potatoes, acai berry powder
Natural GREEN Food Coloring > spinach juice, wheatgrass, kale, swiss chard leaves, lime zest
Natural BLUE Food Coloring > blueberries and blackberries
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