Unnatural, brightly colored foodstuffs have become the norm in much of our society. Rainbow-colored fruit snacks, neon sports drinks and other such items are all familiar items that we reach for without so much as a second thought. You may know that these processed goodies are often high in sugar, and for that reason, maybe you avoid them. But did you ever stop to think about what all that fake coloring is really doing to your body?
A comprehensive report authored by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) detailed the risks of nine widely used food dyes. Over 15 million pounds of just these nine dyes alone are pumped into foods each year by the Big Food industry. The report is called Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks, and it reveals a myriad of ill effects that can be perpetrated simply by what is used to color our food.
The CSPI reportedly found that three of the dyes contain known carcinogens, and four are known to cause serious allergic reactions in some consumers. Seven of the nine food dyes have been found to contribute to cancer in lab animals, including brain and testicular tumors, colon cancer and other mutations. The CSPI writes on their website, “Commonly used food dyes, such as Yellow 5 and Yellow 6, and Red 40, pose risks including hyperactivity in children. Some also pose a risk of cancer (like Red 3) and allergic reactions.”
The agency petitioned the FDA to ban the use of artificial coloring agents that have known side effects. The European Union and the British government have already taken steps toward ending the use of these harmful ingredients in food, and many artificial dyes have been banned overseas. Earlier in 2016, the CSPI released another report, entitled Seeing Red: Time for Action on Food Dyes, which highlights the array of harmful effects perpetrated by food dyes. In a press release, CSPI president Michael F. Jacobson called out major manufacturers such as Coca Cola, General Mills, McDonald’s and others for serving their American patrons foods that had been pumped full of artificial colorants they know are toxic, while providing British and European consumers with naturally colored or color-free versions of the same foods. Jacobson went on to say, “American children will continue to be exposed to these powerful chemicals so long as FDA lags behind its European counterparts.”
Sadly, the FDA has actually recognized that Red 3 is a carcinogen, and that several other colorants contain cancer-causing ingredients. In spite of this recognition, the federal agency has not moved forward with any kind of legislation on these food additives or products that contain them. In true form, the FDA seems to find that being carcinogenic is not in fact a strong enough reason to ban something.
The petroleum-based colorants Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 have all been found to produce harmful effects in laboratory studies. Yellow 6, for example, has been found to cause testicular tumors and cancerous growths in the adrenal glands of lab rats. These three colorants have also been found to contain illegally high amounts of benzidine and 4-aminobiphenyl, both of which are known carcinogens. These products violate the FDA’s own standards, and yet the agency has done nothing about it. These and other toxic food colorants are in nearly everything the average American eats.
AlterNet reported that in 1985, the FDA said that Red 3 was “of greatest public health concern,” but that they never did a single thing about it, and now, 5 million pounds of that colorant alone have been dumped into the food supply.
Why is the FDA standing by while Big Food poisons the American people with these carcinogenic artificial dyes?