Category Archives: Red #40 (Allura Red)

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Types of produce for natural food coloring

A large portion of the foods that we consume contain artificial food colorants. Many of these artificial food dyes have been banned for use in food manufacturing in the United Kingdom, Norway and other European countries. However, they are still considered safe for use in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Thankfully, there is a growing number of various concerned groups who heed the warnings of numerous reports linking artificial food colorants to a myriad of health problems. Health-conscious consumers, for instance, actively take matters into their own hands and opt for natural food colorants. Some food manufacturers are giving in to the demands of these consumers, along with the outcry of health advocates and medical communities. Kraft, General Mills, Nestlé and a few more companies have pledged to phase the use of synthetic food colorants out in their manufacturing process.

While FoodFacts.com joins the American public in celebrating the ingenuity of the country’s confectioners during National Candy Month, we maintain that you should take caution in consuming sweet treats that are filled with artificial food colorants. This month, we shared important information of two of the most commonly used artificial food dyes according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Red Dye #40 and Yellow Dye #5, including the risks they pose to our health.

Staying away from vibrant, artificial food dyes doesn’t mean you’re left with dull, colorless foods. The great news is, you can make your own natural food dyes from produce. In the previous blog post, we shared a recipe for homemade red and yellow food dyes made from raspberries and mangoes, respectively. Today, we’re sharing other types of produce that you can use to make natural food colorants. After all, June isn’t just all about the candies; it’s also National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month!

Red and Pink

  • Beets
  • Pomegranate

Yellow

Blue  and Purple

  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Radicchio
  • Red cabbage

Green

  • Spinach
  • Matcha powder

Orange

  • Carrots
  • Paprika

Bear in mind that there are different processes in making your own natural food colorants, depending on the type of produce you decide to use. Homemade natural food dyes are boiled, puréed or dissolve with vinegar.

If you don’t have the do-it-yourself bone in you, there are brands of natural food coloring that you can easily purchase from grocery stores. Use the All My Food Facts app to see their health scores. Get the app on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon!

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Red Dye #40

Food dyes are added to our foods to make them look more appetizing. There are actually plenty of natural food dyes available for our consumption, such as beets, spinach and turmeric. However, natural food dyes are highly sensitive to light and heat. Their colors, as well as taste, may be altered dramatically at any given phase of the food manufacturing process, including the final packaging and delivery stages.  This is one reason why food manufacturers generally prefer artificial food dyes over natural food colorants.

Artificial food dyes are more iridescent and more shelf-stable than natural food dyes. They also come in each of the primary colors, therefore allowing manufacturers to mix them up and produce a wide array of other hues.

Red Dye #40 is the most commonly used artificial food coloring, according to Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). It should be of no surprise to learn that it appears in numerous candies. As a matter of fact, candies that suggest any fruit content are most likely to have the said colorant. Red Dye #40 is actually present in other foods that are neither red nor bright. Some of them include, potato chips, barbecue sauce and peanut butter.

Whether natural or synthetic, most of the dyes that we ingest are excreted from our bodies. However, FoodFacts.com wants to remind you of what health experts and advocates alike have been saying for a long time: Red Dye #40 has potential to cause serious harm to the body.

Here are some quick facts released in the recent years about Red Dye #40:

  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates that manufacturers disclose the existence of Red Dye #40 in their products on their labels. However, the FDA doesn’t require them to specify how much.
  • The CSPI reports that Red Dye #40 and other artificial food dyes can cause allergic reactions in some people.
  • Research shows that Red Dye #40 can cause hyperactivity and other behavioral problems in children.
  • 43% child-oriented products contain Red Dye #40 and other artificial food dyes.
  • Red Dye #40 contains p-Cresidine, which the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services believes to be cancer-causing.
  • Despite the outcry of CSPI, health advocates and consumers, which includes a petition to ban certain artificial food dyes, there is still no clear consensus from the FDA that Red Dye #40 is toxic.

It is highly recommended that you take caution in consuming foods that contain Red Dye #40. Below are other names that the said colorant go by:

  • FD&C Red No. 40
  • Allura Red
  • Red 40
  • Red No. 40
  • FD and C Red No. 40
  • Allura Red AC
  • C.I. 16035
  • C.I. Food Red 17

FoodFacts.com has always made it explicit that consumers like you be proactive in learning the ingredients contained in your foods. Use the All My Food Facts app to check food labels. Get it on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon!

If it looks like a blueberry and smells like a blueberry, it still might not be a blueberry

FoodFacts wonders if you know what Aunt Jemima Blueberry Waffles, Tropicana Cherry Berry Twister and Betty Crocker Super Moist Carrot Cake Mix have in common.

Food colorings. Blue 2, Yellow 6, Red 40, Yellow 5, to name a few of the more common food colorings in our food supply. But these foods go one step further than using the food colorings … they may in fact be using the food colorings in order to deceive you, the consumer. The Center for Science in the Public Interest reports today that it is urging the FDA to require food companies to disclose on the front of the food labels whether or not a product is artificially colored. We think they have a point. If you see an illustration of fruit on a front label, you may in fact assume that the fruit in the illustration is actually included in that product.

Let’s take a look at a few product ingredient lists and see if the front label packaging is sometimes giving us the wrong impression.

Here’s Aunt Jemima’s Blueberry Waffles.

The product is featured on the front of the packaging. You can see all the “blueberries” in the waffles pictured, as well as some fresh blueberries garnishing the plate atop which the waffles sit. You can also see that in a lighter color type next to the words Blueberry Waffles, are the words “Artificially Flavored”. At least the words are there. The ingredient list cites “Artificial Blueberry Bits” … and that’s the only place you’ll see the word blueberry in that list. You will, however see, Red 40 Lake, Blue 2 Lake, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6. We guess they need to use something to make those dots in the waffles actually look like blueberries.

 

Next we have Betty Crocker SuperMoist Carrot Cake Mix. This was a featured product in the report from the Center For Science in the Public Interest.

If you look closely at the image, you can see what appear to be bits of real carrot in the cake. Sadly, when you look further into the ingredient list, those bits of carrot are actually listed as “Carrot Flavored Pieces that are made out of corn syrup, enriched flour, corn cereal, partially hydrogenated cottonseed and/or soybean oil, carrot powder and yellow 6 and red 40.” That carrot powder mentioned in the Carrot Flavored Pieces is the only carrot in the entire ingredient list. What leads you to believe the carrot cake mix is made with actual carrots is the photo gracing the front of the package.

 

Tropicana Twister Cherry Berry Blast is using Red 40 in what appears to be an effort to make the consumer think that the cherries and berries pictured on the label are actually in the product.
The product does, in fact, contain fruit juice, just no cherry or berry juice.

 

We can also feature Strawberry Cool Whip.

The artwork on the front of the package pictures lovely, whole strawberries surrounding with a dollop of Strawberry Cool Whip sitting on top. Unfortunately, that’s the biggest relationship to a strawberry this product has. When you check the ingredient list, it doesn’t mention strawberries at all. It does, though, mention Red 40 which makes the whipped topping pink and, therefore leads the consumer to believe it actually contains strawberries.

Share your opinions with FoodFacts. We’d like to know if you think the efforts of the Center for Science in the Public Interest will help this situation. Would reading clearly on any of these front labels contains Food Coloring Red 40 or Yellow 6 make this more intelligible to the consumer. Perhaps they shouldn’t be able to picture a fruit on the label that’s actually unrelated to the product. Or maybe you have other ideas that we can share. Let us know.

Red #3 (Erythrosine) and Red #40 (Allura Red)

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Red #3 (Erythrosine) and Red #40 (Allura Red)

Both are Food dyes that are orange-red and cherry red, respectively. Red #40 is the most widely used food dye in America.

FOUND IN Fruit cocktail, candy, chocolate cake, cereal, beverages, pastries, maraschino cherries, and fruit snacks.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW The FDA has proposed a ban on Red #3 in the past, but so far the agency has been unsuccessful in implementing it. After the dye was inextricably linked to thyroid tumors in rat studies, the FDA managed to have the lake (or liquid) form of the dye removed from external drugs and cosmetics. You should avoid foods containing these controversial additives.