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Watch for artificial food dyes with Halloween this week!

Did you know that many additives, preservatives and dyes that are used in food in the US are banned in other countries?

For example, the use of artificial dyes and colors in processed foods is banned in Norway and Austria. In 2009, the British government promised to stop using dyes by the end of the year and the EU requires warnings on most foods made with these ingredients.

I find it so interesting (disturbing?) that in the US, McDonald’s makes their strawberry milkshake with dozens of artificial ingredients and flavors but no actual strawberries. Yet in Europe, they use real strawberries because so many of those ingredients are banned.

CSPI names a few stark differences in foods served in the United States and Europe in the report. In Britain, Fanta orange soda is dyed with pumpkin and carrot extract while the U.S. version is dyed with Red 40 and Yellow 6.

Kellogg Strawberry NutriGrain bars are colored with Red 40, Yellow 6 and Blue 1 in the U.S., but with beetroot, annatto and paprika extract in the UK.

McDonald’s Strawberry Sundaes are colored with strawberries in Britain but with Red dye 40 in America.

Why should children avoid artificial dyes?

They have been linked to hyperactivity, carcinogenicity (cancer-causing components), behavioral affects and even birth defects. The Center for Science in the Public Interest published this disturbing report of their findings.

The dyes that are the most popular in the US include Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6 and Blue 2. They’re found in foods like cheese-its, jello, macaroni and cheese, and of course all types of candy. Red dyes have also been added to children’s medicine. I’ve even seen them in some children’s vitamins!

Obviously, we would be healthier if we avoided these products but the reality is that they are being consumed by children (and adults) and the least we can do is push for “real” ingredients and use our consumer dollars to show our concerns, by switching to purchasing Halloween candy from companies like Unreal, GoOrganic, Surf Sweets, SmartSweets, and many more.

Do you check ingredient labels for food dyes?

Does it concern you that the US is so slow to ban food additives and chemicals?

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