Food coloring additives are nothing new. Their use in foods dates back to the early 19th century. Over the centuries, they have become one of the most common additives in the manufacturing of foods and beverages. They are used to give color, astringency, and other functionalities to food, and are considered safe for human consumption.

If you think that food additives are bad, you may want to reconsider. One of the most commonly used additives is food color, which is used to enhance the taste of a product and to make it look appealing. But food color is also used in places where it shouldn’t—for example, on everything from bread to milk to salad dressings. And while there certainly are cases where food additives are a bad thing, there are sometimes legitimate reasons for using them. We look at some of the things you need to know about food additives when you eat foods that your body wants to keep in the healthy range.

Food color additives are largely responsible for the unnatural colors and synthetic flavors found in common packaged foods and beverages. For example, food coloring is added to milk to make it yellow, orange, or chocolate brown. Other food color additives are used to enhance the flavor of processed foods by adding a natural or artificial sweetener, sour note, or other taste characteristic. Many food color additives can also be used to add body or texture to foods.

Remember when you were a kid and your Froot Loops came with blue milk? That was back in the day. But whence did this color originate? Isn’t it true that we’ll all regret drinking the milk?

What are the different types of food additives?

The following are examples of food additives:

Any material, whether or whether it has nutritional value, that is not usually eaten as such and is not utilized as a distinctive constituent of a food.

Definition, thank you for not accomplishing anything. So, a food additive is something that isn’t naturally present in the food we consume and must be added…. As a result, the name.

Food additives come in a variety of forms, including preservatives, sweeteners, hardeners, anti-caking agents, and so on. (See the FDA’s website or Health Canada’s website for a complete list of food additives, as well as a helpful food additives pocket dictionary if you can’t recall the difference between isopropyl alcohol and isobutane.)

Dyes and varnishes are two types of color additives.

Dyes are water-soluble pigments that come in powder, granular, liquid, and other forms. They may be found in a variety of goods, including drinks, dry mixes, bread items, dairy items, jams, puddings, pie fillings, yogurt, ice cream, pet food, and many more.

Ozerki is a dye that is not water soluble. Lakes are more stable than dyes, making them excellent for coloring goods with fats and oils, as well as those with insufficient moisture to breakdown the dyes. Jelly beans, cake and doughnut mixes, cheese, margarine, confectionery, and chewing gum are all common uses.

What are the sources of food colors?

Plants, animals, and minerals have long been recognized to produce stains on surfaces such as cloth, leather, wood, and food. The colors are created by pigments found naturally in various plants and minerals, as well as chemical processes that may occur (for example, when everything becomes green due to copper oxidation). These include, for example:

Type of pigment What happened to it? Color was the catalyst.
Anthocyanins Beets; dark berries Blue-purple
Cantaxanthin Algae; some fish species Pink/orange
Chlorophyll Algae/green plant leaves Green
Charcoal Burn wood Grey-black
Cochineal Insects Purple and red
Iron oxide is a kind of iron oxide. Metal that has rusted Brownish-reddish
Paprika chilli powder Colors of orange and red
Saffron Flowers of the crocus Orange and yellow are complementary colors.
Turmeric Turmeric is a spice that comes from the root of the turmeric plant. Yellow-orange

By the way, they are all natural food colors that are permitted.

Many food colors were originally made from coal tar, which is carcinogenic, before the advent of industrial processing. They are currently mostly made of petroleum (oil).

Food color additives come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

The Food and Drug Administration in the United States separates colored food additives into two categories: certified and exempt.

Certified colors are synthetic (or man-made) colors that are often used because they provide a rich, consistent color, are less costly, and are simpler to combine to create a range of hues. Only nine are permitted in the United States (see below).

Pigments derived from natural sources such as plants and animals, as well as metals and minerals such as aluminum, silver, iron, and titanium dioxide, do not need certification. They’re usually more costly, and they may give goods unwelcome or unpleasant tastes.

What is the purpose of food additives?

Color additives are used by manufacturers to conceal the absence of natural color (for example, in margarine), compensate for color loss due to light/air/temperature exposure, and add value to their products.

Are there any dyes in Froot Loops’ ingredient list? What color do you suppose the Froot Loops were before they were sprayed with chemicals? (For further information, see All About Breakfast Cereals.)


Food colors: all you need to know

Red 40, yellow 5, and yellow 6 are the most frequently used colors, accounting for 90% of all dyes used. They may induce allergic responses and contain carcinogenic chemicals. Synthetic dyes are detected in approximately 15 million pounds of food in the United States each year (well, processed American food).

The use of food colorants has risen fivefold since 1955. The United States consumes a lot of processed food.

What are the issues with food additives that are colored?

Food dyes may be especially troublesome:

  • Carcinogenicity is a term that refers to the ability of a substance to cause cancer.
  • Genotoxicity results in chromosomal alterations or damage.
  • The term “neurotoxicity” refers to the harm that a substance causes to nerve tissue.

The food colors that are banned are:

  • Green 1 causes liver cancer. Red 1 causes liver cancer.
  • Carcinogenic: Orange 1, Orange 2, Violet 1, Red 2, Red 32
  • Sudan 1 is a toxic country.
  • Yellow 1 and 2 irritate the intestines.
  • Yellow 3 and 4 – are linked to heart disease.

Despite the fact that certain research indicate that particular hues are not strong carcinogens in and of themselves, there may be a synergistic impact. As a consequence, the presence of several colors in the same meal may increase its carcinogenicity.

The FDA has authorized nine food colorants so far. There is insufficient evidence to prohibit these nine colors, according to the FDA.

FD&C blue nos. 1 and 2

I recall hearing tales about the use of Blue No. 1 in tube feedings from nurses at the hospital where I worked. They did this in order to send the fluid to the intestines instead than the airways (because a feeding tube in the lungs can lead to pneumonia).

A limited quantity of Blue No. 1 is absorbed from the gastrointestinal system, according to animal tests. This is not a good situation. What’s worse, the animals in these experiments were in excellent condition and weren’t in critical care. The gastrointestinal tract of people who are tube fed in critical care is typically weak. Several studies dating back to 1999 have indicated that Blue No. 1 may pass past the digestive system and into the circulation, with sometimes catastrophic consequences. The FDA recommended against using this color in food tubes in 2003.

It’s always in the food, however.


FD&C Green No. 3

It is not used in North American foods because it may cause cancer in animals.

FD&C Red No. 3 and 40

Red 40 is one of the most popular food colors that may cause cancers in animals (see Orange Crush). The color isn’t red. Since 1907, 3 has been around. Do you remember your Shirley Temple’s maraschino cherries? They were given a crimson paint job. 3. It isn’t red. 3 is carcinogenic and genotoxic to mammals.

FD&C yellow No 5 (tartrazine) and 6

Hypersensitivity responses have been linked to these colors. It has a similar chemical structure to benzoate and salicylate (the active ingredient in aspirin). Yellow No. 5 has been shown to be mutagenic (causes mutations; damages DNA) in animals and may possibly include contaminants. Yellow No. 6 may include pollutants as well, although it does not seem to be cancerous.

Orange B

I don’t have much to say about it other that I’d love that moniker if I were a rapper. In reality, Orange B is only allowed to be used in the casings of sausages. Orange B has been found in animal tests to cause issues with the spleen, lymphatic system, and kidneys. In 1978, the FDA attempted to prohibit it, but it was unsuccessful since most food producers ceased using it.

Citrus red nr. 2 is a citrus red that comes in a variety of colors.

It’s often used in the preparation of orange peels. This material is manufactured in such large quantities each year that it can be used to color 2 billion oranges. In animals, it seems to induce cancer and tumors.

A word of advice: FD&C stands for Food, Drug and Cosmetic.

Isn’t it obvious that it’s good?

Well, it all depends on the situation. Some natural supplements are most likely ideal.

  • For example, dried beets. B. It’s unlikely to make an impact.
  • If you consume too much beta-carotene, the worst that may happen is that you will become orange.
  • Turmeric is a ginger relative that may have anti-inflammatory qualities, but there isn’t enough in your yellow mustard to make it a healthful meal.

Other natural dietary supplements, on the other hand, may create greater issues. Consider the following scenario:

  • Cheese frequently contains annatto extract, a carotenoid derived from the seeds of a tropical tree (Bixa orellana). IgE-mediated allergy responses are mediated by this protein.
  • Cochineal extract, often known as carmine, is a crimson dye produced by crushing the cochineal insect. Cochineal extract or carmine is now included on the ingredients label (prior to 2009 this was optional). 70,000 beetles must be killed to make one pound of this crimson dye. IgE-mediated allergy is what this term refers to.
  • When the cola becomes brown and the beer turns gold, it’s known as the caramel hue. Caramel is the most commonly used food coloring component on the planet. It’s produced by breaking the bonds between sugars by heating carbohydrates (like fructose, dextrose, or invert sugar) with food acids (like sulphuric, phosphoric, or citric). Caramel is similar to the hue of burned sugar. Caramel hue has little negative health consequences unless consumed in high quantities. (See All About Cooking and Carcinogens for additional information on the dangers connected with the Maillard reaction.) An allergic response is a possibility.
  • The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has categorized titanium dioxide, which gives white things their color (like your soy milk), as a Group 2B carcinogen, meaning it may cause cancer in humans.
  • Aluminum, which is used as a dietary ingredient in a variety of products such as cake decorations, canned seafood (including caviar), and lard, has been linked to problems with reproduction, neurobehavioral development, and neurodevelopment.

What laws govern the use of additives?

After concerns about dyes in food and cosmetics were raised in the United States, the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act was enacted in 1938. The FDA must approve every new food additive before it may be sold, according to the Food Additive Amendment, which was enacted in 1960.

Food production in the United States is less controlled than in other developed countries.

Food additive regulation in the European Union (EU) is founded on the premise that producers may only use additions that have been expressly authorized. In the EU, food additives may only be approved if they meet certain criteria.

  • There is a technical need for their usage.
  • They do not deceive customers.
  • They do not pose a threat to the consumer’s health.

The use of most food additives is limited in specific foods. If a particular additive does not have a specified legal limit, it must be used in line with good manufacturing practice – that is, only in the quantity required to produce the intended technical impact.

Health Canada regulates food additives in Canada, and it is presently contemplating legislation that would compel producers to disclose the dyes they use, rather than simply the color.

What is the significance of food colors?

You’re more likely to consume food additives including colors if you eat processed meals. Food colors have been a source of worry for a number of specialists.

Children and food additives

The European Union (EU) mandates that the use of food colorings be accompanied with a warning, since they may impair children’s activity and attention. On the label, the following notice will now appear:

In youngsters, it may have a detrimental impact on activity and attention.

In the United Kingdom, almost 30% of children under the age of 11 have had issues with food additives. Food colors, on the other hand, do not seem to create as many problems as other additives (e.g. aspartame, monosodium glutamate, etc.).

Food coloring-related behavioral issues are thought to have existed since the 1970s, according to researchers. Artificial colorants influence children’s behavior, according to a 2004 meta-analysis, and two UK government-funded studies found that mixed colorants (together with the preservative sodium benzoate) had a detrimental impact on children’s behavior.

The same meals are colored differently in the UK as they are in the US.

A quick aside: Before rushing to the FDA offices, consider the goods in issue. Strawberry ice cream, orangeade, and granola bars? It makes no difference whether they’re dyed with the petals of rare Fijian flowers; if you consume them on a daily basis, your health will suffer.

Except in the event of allergy to a food color originating from a plant/animal source, most adverse responses to food colors are not accompanied by the formation of IgE antibodies (e.g. annatto extract, cochineal extract, etc.).

A summary of food color research is available in PDF format (Source: Centre for Science in the Public Interest)

Conclusions and suggestions

While there is no clear proof that certain food colors are harmful to your health, many of them are. Colored food additives are also unlikely to enhance good health and longevity (but who knows). Why do you use them, then?

Eating entire, unadulterated foods is the simplest method to prevent dyes (with the exception of dyes from orange peels and substances like beta-carotene used in chicken feed to make anemic eggs yellower). Buy food from small-scale farmers whenever feasible and inquire about how they handle their crops and animals.

Check the ingredients before purchasing processed goods. If you notice any of the words below, put them down and gently return to your feet:

  • Color that has been added artificially
  • Green, orange, red, purple, blue, or yellow, with a number after it.
  • Color: caramel

supplementary appropriation

Blue food coloring was shown to prevent paralysis following a spinal cord damage in rats in a research (see here: CBS News article).

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To view the sources of information used in this article, go here.

Toxicity of the medical food and cosmetic dye blue #1 in critically sick patients, Lucarelli MR, et al. Chest 125:793-795, 2004.

US Food and Drug Administration. FD&C Blue No. 1 in enteral nutrient solutions. Public Health Consultation. 29. September 2003.

D. McCann et al. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled investigation of dietary supplements and hyperactive behavior in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the community. The Lancet, vol. 370, no. 1560, 1567, 2007.

Food additives and food security, European Commission (with references to the relevant legislation).

EU requires warning labels for dye-containing goods, according to L. Curran, 21 July 2010.

Kobylewski S & Jacobsen MF. Food dyes: a rainbow of risks. June 2010. Centre for Science in the Public Interest.

Children’s hyperactivity symptoms and artificial food coloring 2009;18:215 in Prescrire International.

Schab DW & Trinh NH. Do artificial food dyes contribute to the development of hyperactivity in children with hyperactive syndromes? A meta-analysis of double-blind, placebo-controlled studies. J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2004;25:423-434.

Food coloring’s risks, by J. Furman, 16 July 2010.

CBS News is a news organization. Is blue dye effective in preventing paralysis? July 28th, 2009.

Ingredients and food coloring, according to the FDA. April 2010 update.

B. Bateman et al. Effect of artificial food coloring and benzoate preservative on hyperactivity in a broad population sample of preschoolers in a double-blind, placebo-controlled research. 89:506-511 in Arch Dis Child, 2004.

D. McCann et al. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled investigation of dietary supplements and hyperactive behavior in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the community. The Lancet, vol. 370, no. 1560, 1567, 2007.

Randhawa S & Bahna SL. Hypersensitivity reactions to food additives. Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol 2009;9:278-283.

Other causes of food hypersensitivity, Skypala I. Isabelle Skypala and Carina Venter edited Food Hypersensitivity. 2009, Wiley Blackwell.

Food color additives are used to give foods a specific color or flavor. They are not harmful, but some people are concerned about the effects of these additives. Here are answers to some of the questions some people ask about food color additives, and the food additives themselves.. Read more about what are the nine certified color additives approved for use in the united states? and let us know what you think.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the function of color additives?

Color additives are substances that are added to food products in order to enhance the color of the product. They can be natural or artificial.

Why are color additives used in food?

Color additives are used in food to make the food look more appealing.

Where do color additives come from?

Color additives are made from natural or synthetic dyes that are mixed with a carrier, such as water, oil, waxes, and resins.

This article broadly covered the following related topics:

  • food dye ingredients
  • what are the nine certified color additives approved for use in the united states?
  • 7 fd&c dyes approved by fda for use as food additives
  • seven fd&c approved food dyes
  • fda color additives
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