Red Dye 40 Debunked

Feb 20, 2024

What is Red Dye 40?

Red Dye 40, also known as Allura Red AC, is a synthetic food coloring agent commonly used in various food and beverage products. Red Dye 40 is widely used to enhance the visual appeal of a wide range of products, including candies, soft drinks, desserts, processed foods, medications, and even cosmetics. While it is approved by regulatory agencies like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for consumption, there is research that shows negative impacts associated with the consumption of this food dye, especially in children. As with any food additive, its safety and usage are subject to ongoing research and scrutiny by health authorities.

The Health Impact of Red Dye 40

Red Dye 40 is typically used with other additives in processed foods, causing a plethora of potential symptoms. Additionally, the dye contains benzidine, a known cancer-causing chemical, putting those who are exposed at risk. The levels of benzidine are considered just low enough for the FDA to consider the product as safe, however, some side effects include:
Hyperactivity and increased risk for ADHD
Behavioral changes
Allergy-like symptoms
Skin irritation
Respiratory problems
Digestive issues

Pediatric Concerns

Pediatric concerns regarding Red Dye 40 have gotten increased attention from parents, healthcare professionals, and educators. Many studies have suggested a link between Red Dye 40 and behavioral effects, especially in children. Many argue that the dye contributes to hyperactivity and attention deficit. The call for stricter regulations or the ban of Red Dye 40 has gained more awareness, highlighting the importance of children's health over the appeal of brightly colored foods and beverages.

Decreasing Exposure to Red Dye 40

Decreasing the consumption of Red Dye 40 is a great step in promoting overall health and well-being. By opting for products with no Red Dye 40, consumers can make a positive impact in their welfare.
Below are some tips for how to reduce the risk of Red Dye 40 exposure.
Check ingredient lists: Look for artificial dyes and colorings (Tip: use the Trash Panda app to easily flag dyes and additives!)
Opt for alternatives: Try using beet juice, cranberry juice, cherries, red cabbage, or other potent red fruits to color foods
Whole food diet: Cook meals using fresh, whole ingredients to minimize reliance on process foods that typically contain artificial colorings
Educate yourself: Being aware of the risks of Red Dye 40 and other artificial dyes and additives can empower you to make more informed decisions about your food choices
Advocate for transparency: Support initiatives that advocate for transparency in food labeling and call for clearer information regarding the presence of artificial additives Center for Science in the Public Interest: CSPI is a non-profit organization that advocate for the safety and nutritional quality of food, such as food labeling and the use of artificial additives. Clean Label Project: This non-profit organization is dedicated to promoting transparency in labeling, and provides consumers with information about the quality and safety of the products they purchase. Real Food Media: The network of organizations and individuals works to promoting sustainable food systems, transparency in labeling, and supports initiatives that focus on whole foods rather than processed products.

Global Perspectives

The international perspective of Red Dye 40 reflects a variety of approached, consumer preferences, and industry practices. While Red Dye 40 is legal in many nations, several others have tougher laws due to health concerns. For example, The European Union has stricter regulations on food additives, excluding Red Dye 40 from many products. On the other hand, the United States continues to authorize its usage, highlighting the fact that it passes safety regulations. The global food industry is facing increased demand for transparency and natural ingredients, forcing companies to investigate natural alternatives.
For more information on additives that are considered "safe" in the United States but are banned in Europe, check out this blog post!

Other Artificial Dyes to Look Out For

Beyond Red Dye 40, there are several other artificial food dyes that raise concerns about potential health impacts.
Yellow 5 (Tartrazine): Has been associated with allergic reactions as well as hyperactivity in children
Yellow 6 (Sunset Yellow): Has been tied to adrenal gland and kidney tumors in animal studies, raising concerns about safety for human consumption
Blue 1 (Brilliant Blue) and Blue 2 (Indigo Carmine): Have been reported to cause hypersensitivity reactions and have been linked to potential neurotoxic effects
Green 3 (Fast Green): has been associated with bladder tumors in animal studies, creating a worrisome aspect for human health
Collectively, these artificial food dyes have been widely criticized for their adverse health affects. As the debate on the safety of artificial food dyes continues, a cautious approach towards consumption is advised.

Using the Trash Panda App to Flag Food Dyes

When scanning barcodes with the Trash Panda app, the app will flag not only Red Dye 40, but other artificial dyes such as Yellow 6, Red 3, Blue 1, and Blue 5, as potentially harmful.
As always, when shopping for dye-free foods, the Trash Panda app is your friend. Be sure to scan your products to ensure they don't have any harmful ingredients!
Reading ingredients made easy. For quicker, healthier decisions.
Start Scanning (it's free)
Trash Panda
Download on the App Store
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