Dangerous Dyes Hidden in Your Food

Food has been colored since ancient times. There are many natural ingredients that can be used to change or enhance the color of food. Beet juice, for example, can dye foods pink and turmeric works for yellow. In recent years, the food industry has taken this to a whole new level.

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Everybody ought to know that neon-colored candies, colored baked goods and gaudy cereals are dyed. But there are synthetic dyes in food that we may never expect.

1. Cereal bars, which look like baked crust surrounding a fruit filling—may contain synthetic red, yellow, and blue colors.

2. Yellow cake mixes would make for a pasty-white cake if it didn’t have some yellow synthetic dyes. (In the olden days when people baked from scratch, yellow cake took its name and color from the egg yolks in it—today’s powdered eggs do not have the same effect.)

3. Many prepackaged food kits, such as Hamburger Helper—contain food dyes, particularly red dyes to help make the tomato sauce look like it might have some tomatoes in it.

4. Cereals, even the plain-colored varieties, often contain dyes.

5. Many beverages, from soda to sports drinks and even those “juice” drinks that are really flavored sugar water—can contain dyes. And don’t think the beverage has to be neon. Ginger ale contains dye.

6. Ice creams often contain dyes, particularly for flavors like strawberry.

7. Chocolate syrup may contain dye, just to make sure the chocolate looks rich enough.

8. Gelatin is practically just a vehicle to serve up synthetic dyes and sugar.

9. Many oranges from the tree are colored with Red 2, to give them a beautiful deep orange color.

10. Products with lemon flavor are often dyed yellow, since lemons by nature produce a very pale juice—the outside skin is yellow but not the juice. Nevertheless, we like our lemon-flavored products to look deep yellow!

But dyes are all around us. Check the list of ingredients on these types of categories—you’ll often find synthetic food dyes.

· Over-the-counter and prescription medicines (antihistamines, antacids, topical products)

· Sunscreen, aloe vera gel, and self-tanning products

· Mouthwash

· Toothpaste

· Body care products, from soap to gels to lotions to shampoos

· Cosmetics

· Pet foods

What can you do? Read the ingredients carefully. Today, many products also offer detailed information online. Do not assume that just because your product is not bright neon pink that it does not contain synthetic dyes!



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Jo Ann LeQuang
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