Red #40 and the Colors of Food

Posted: September 20, 2011 in Additives
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Everything has a color. From black to white to the colors of the rainbow and beyond colors are one of the best parts of creation. Color gives feeling and beauty. This of course includes food. Food has amazing amount of color, but is it real? Are the colors in our day-by-day foods really colors “from nature” or colors from a laboratory?

food colors

 In this modern age man creates color everyday for various purposes like paints, furniture, wallpaper, rugs, etc. but did you know man also create a lot of the color in your food? You might at this moment be eating man-made color! There is no problem with man creating color. God gave us the colors of creation and the ability to create art as part of His gifts to man. But man is sinful. Does man miss use his ability to create color in today’s age? The answer, I believe, is YES!

 Look at the ingredient list of any food or food topping and you might see one or more colors like Yellow #5, Red #3, Green #3, Blue #2, or Red #40. The color names usually have “FD&C” before each name, which stands for Food, Drug and Cosmetics. According to this article ( only the following colors are allowed to be in use in foods in the USA:

  FD&C Red 3

(Pink shade)

EU# E127

  FD&C Red 40

(Red shade)

EU# E129

  FD&C Yellow 5

(Yellow shade)

EU# E102

  FD&C Yellow 6

(Orange shade)

EU# E110

  FD&C Blue 1

(Blue shade)

EU# E133

  FD&C Blue 2

(Dark Blue shade)

EU# E132

  FD&C Green 3

(Bluish green shade)

EU# E143

 Of course these colors can and are mixed to make other colors that have different names. The Food and Drug Administration controls what food colorings and dyes can be used in food as well as how much. Plus it is their job to protect us against any harmful colors, right? But how can colors be harmful?

 FD&C Red #40 is a very interesting color, one of the most common that I have seem around… maybe that is just because I look out for it. This is the real red part of food colors, unlike Red #3 that is pinker. What makes Red 40 interesting is its history.

 Red 40 was a replacement of FD&C Red #2 after the FDA found that color to be cancerous! Red 2 was fed to aged female rats and those rats developed cancer! Even though, according to the Time article of that time (,9171,945520,00.html) humans would have “to drink 7,500 12-oz. cans of soda pop containing Red No. 2 every day to reach the rats’ level of consumption” Red 2 was banned by the FDA and later replaced by Red #40. But is this replacement, or any of the current food colors better and safer than Red #2?

 The question now is whether or not FD&C Red #40 is better/healthier than Red 2? And to go even farther, whether or not any of the food dyes and colors are safe? This is a heavily debated topic in the natural and mainstream health industries. The main argument is that most of the food colorings cause problems in children’s brain development, which might lead to ADD or ADHD among other things.

 Here is what I have found about FD&C Red #40 only…

 Red 40 causes hyperactivity in young children as they are developing. This is a major problem today. This is also the first step toward disorders like ADD, ADHD, and the like. This is the biggest problem because hyperactivity is usually paired with learning impairment, irritability and or aggressiveness. Plus children are not the only people who are or can be effected. Teenagers, like myself, adults, and maybe even seniors all can be effected in some way by hyperactivity.

Red 40 can cause allergic reactions and allergies. For this reason alone I would ban this color! I know to many people who have allergies and suffer from poor health every season because of it. The less things that can cause allergies the better.

Two ingrediants in food dyes, including Red 40, are called benzidine and 4-aminobiphenyl. Remember how I said before that Red #2 was banned because it was linked to cancer in rats? Well, research has linked these two ingrediants to cancer as well! Yes, the very problem of Red 2 was banned and than replaced by basically its twin brother Red 40! Red 40 is a carcinogen; meaning it causes cancer.

 I’m sure this list will get a lot longer as time goes on. A very interesting quote directly from Wikipedia is the following…

 “In Europe, Allura Red AC {this is just another name for FD&C Red #40 as Wikipedia explains earlier in this article} is not recommended for consumption by children. It is banned in Denmark, Belgium, France and Switzerland, and was also banned in Sweden until the country joined the European Union in 1994. The European Union approves Allura Red AC as a food colorant, but EU countries’ local laws banning food colorants are preserved. In Norway, it was banned between 1978 and 2001, a period in which azo dyes were only legally used in alcoholic beverages and some fish products.
In the United States, Allura Red AC is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in cosmetics, drugs, and food. It is used in some tattoo inks and is used in many products, such as soft drinks, children’s medications, and cotton candy. On June 30, 2010, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) called for the FDA to ban Red 40. Executive Director Michael Jacobson said, “These synthetic chemicals do absolutely nothing to improve the nutritional quality or safety of foods, but trigger behavior problems in children and, possibly, cancer in anybody.” (Source: )

Until Red #40 is banned and taken off the market, which is a goal for many, the best thing to do is stay away from it. Read the labels and ingredient lists on all food, drugs, and cosmetics before buying. It might just safe you from hyperactivity, allergies, or even cancer!

Everything I have showed you about red 40 is true for most of the other seven legal food colors. This begs the biggest question – If the FDA banned Red 2 because it caused cancer in rats, than why legalize Red 40, which is linked directly to cancer as well as the other food dyes? Food for thought…

food colors

More Reading about Red 40 and the other seven colors:


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