Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Do Food Dyes Deceive Consumers? - Juggling Real Food and Real Life

In my last post, I talked about some of the health issues with artificial dyes like Red 40 and Yellow 5.  These two dyes and six others are all made from petroleum.  These artificial colors have been found to cause hyperactivity in children, allergies, and cancer in lab animals.  These artificial food colors seem to be found in everything these days.

My question today is: Do Food Dyes Deceive Consumers?

I can't speak for everyone, but my answer to this is a big "Yes!"

Food companies use high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, and other artificial ingredients to simulate healthy fruits and vegetables.  You can see this all over the place.  Start reading labels.  Are those really blueberries in the blueberry muffins you are eating?  Is that really strawberry filling in your cereal bar?  Is there any juice in the "fruit juice box" you buy?  I'm sorry to say........there probably isn't.  



Artificial Dyes or Fruit?


So why do food companies use artificial colors?  


That's an easy answer.  Processed food is ugly.  Would you eat bland looking food?  No, you want brightly colored beautiful food.  Think about how boring it would be to eat cheese puffs if they didn't have that artificial color all over them.  (Not that I encourage you to eat them anyway.)  But think about them without the color............gross!  Unfortunately, children seem to be attracted to the brightly colored food even more than adults.  You will be hard pressed to find a food marketed to children without bright colors.  Children's yogurt is a good example of this.  Why is there a need for children's yogurt?  Why can't they eat the same yogurt we adults do?  Oh!  I know............they need the super bright artificial colors.  The same colors that are believed to cause hyperactivity in children.


What Can I do?


This is the question I asked myself when I found out how harmful these artificial colors are. If they are in almost everything.......how do I avoid them?



  • Buy fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Read labels - Not all companies use artificial colors
  • Avoid processed food and cook with ingredients. 


Fresh Ingredients



What can I do to encourage food companies to change to recipes that do not use artificial dyes like they already do in Europe?

  • Get involved in the Food Movement. Write to your favorite companies and ask them to remove the artificial colors.
  • Vote with your dollars - Don't buy the food if they use artificial colors.
  • Post messages on company social media sites.  There is nothing like consumers banning together to fill up a wall with these types of requests.  It catches some attention.  I will never encourage you to be rude.  So politely tell the food companies, you want the artificial colors out.  
  • Follow leaders of the food movement.  I love what the FoodBabe is doing.  I have been a fan of hers for a year.  It is amazing what she has accomplished in this time.
I hope this helps.  Knowledge is power and I hope you know that you DON'T have to eat artificial colors.  

Where have you found artificial colors that surprised you?  Were you aware they are made from petroleum?  Have you had an adverse reaction to artificial dyes?  Maybe you think that they are OK in food.  Let me know that as well. 

Can't get enough Juggling Real Food and Real Life?  Make sure you subscribe to our email list so you don't miss a post.  You will also want to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  Just look for the buttons at the top to follow us on your favorite social media.  We also have a Real Food Experience Facebook group.  If you would like to join us, leave me your Facebook email address (the one you sign on with) in the comments below or email me at jugglingrealfoodandreallife@gmail.com. 

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12 comments:

  1. Great article. It's really a shame that the FDA allows so many deceptive food labels. If you have a sensitive child, reading labels is just not enough. Dyes, preservatives, etc. can still be there! People need to know that.

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    1. That is really good information to have. Thanks for pointing that out!

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    2. Parents formed an organization to properly research the products via written communications with the manufacturers. If the company fills out the detailed forms and it meets the criteria, members are informed and the products is added to its Foodlist & Shopping Guide. It's over 450 pages now and is routinely updated. The organization is still run by parents: Feingold Assoc. of the United States www.feingold.org

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  2. Great article. I found when my son was little he was very sensitive to food dyes in all of the "kid" food. It's amazing what effect that can have on a little body!

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    1. I'm glad you figured it out Jennifer. It couldn't have been easy. Children are the most sensitive to the food dyes and yet.........children's food is the brightest of them all. It's just crazy!

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    2. The 2007 Southampton study in the UK showed that all children are affected by synthetic food dyes. It led to warning labels being required on all products with food dyes in Europe. Unfortunately not yet in the US. There are American companies making great candies etc. for the European market but they won't in the US.

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  3. I can attest to the unappetizing color of many processed foods available in Europe. Even something like sliced chiken or turkey breast looks pallid without the caramel color we're used to seeing.

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    1. Thanks for sharing that Lydia. You have a unique perspective in that you've seen foods with and without the added artificial colors. I think it really is what you are used to. Maybe, with time we would get used to the difference. Artificial colors don't add any nutrition or flavor. They only add color. The eye is a powerful sense and I know that I won't eat food unless it is visually appealing to me. That's why I love fresh fruits and vegetables. They are beautiful just the way they are!

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  4. When I switched from margarine to butter, it took me a while to get used the pale color. I always thought butter was supposed to be yellow :) (It tastes SO MUCH BETTER, I don't know why I every used margarine!) Actually, it was just because that's what I grew up with. My mom always bought it, so I did.

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    1. My mom grew up with butter, but bought margarine. I think somewhere in the late 70s early 80s they were taught that margarine was healthier. It sure doesn't taste better. It is funny how we associate certain flavors with certain colors.

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  5. There is a way to know whether what you are buying is free of those additives. Parents formed an organization to properly research the products via written communications with the manufacturers. If the company fills out the detailed forms and it meets the criteria, members are informed and the products is added to its Foodlist & Shopping Guide. It's over 450 pages now and is routinely updated. The organization is still run by parents: Feingold Assoc. of the United States www.feingold.org

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    1. That is excellent information to have. I will have to check it out! Thanks for letting me know about Feingold Assoc.

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