Artificial colors have been a part of the American diet since the early 1900s, when they first became popular as an alternative to natural versions. While food manufacturers touted them as being more stable and longer lasting than naturally derived dyes, there was always something about artificial colors that made people uncomfortable.
As research into artificial colors has progressed over time, we've learned more about what makes them so bad for us—and how even trace amounts can cause health problems in children.
They're made using chemicals like coal tar and petroleum.
One problem with artificial colors is that they're made using chemicals like coal tar and petroleum. Coal tar and petroleum contain heavy metals that can cause serious damage to the body. It's true that some artificial colors have been deemed safe by the FDA, but this doesn't mean they don't have any side effects or potential health risks. You should be wary of consuming them in anything you eat or drink!
They may cause hyperactivity in children.
In the last decade, studies have shown a link between artificial food colorings and hyperactivity in children. Hyperactivity is one of the symptoms of ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder), which is a serious condition that can be detrimental to a child's life if not treated properly.
Some studies link artificial colors to certain cancers.
Many studies have linked artificial colors to certain cancers. For example, research done at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine found that mixtures of artificial dyes were carcinogenic in mice. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently allows food manufacturers to use up to 15 different types of artificial food dyes in the products they sell in America.
It can be hard to tell if your favorite foods contain these additives because there are so many different names for them: FD&C Blue 1; D&C Red 3; D&C Yellow 5; FD&C Yellow 6.
Some artificial colors are banned in other countries but still on the market in the U.S.
- Yellow 6: banned from use in food products in Norway and Finland (2002)
- Red 40: banned from use as an allergen warning colorant in Denmark (1982), France (1990), Sweden (1992), Austria (1994), Belgium (1996), The Netherlands (1999) and Germany (2010). However it's still legal in the US because of "industry pressure". The FDA has stated that they will reevaluate this decision based on new research; however nothing has yet been done.
The FDA has been slow to ban artificial colors, citing that they are not certain if they are harmful or not. However, it’s better to be safe than sorry!
You want your family to be healthy; ditching artificial colors is one easy way to do it.