I went to the movies with my 11 year old last night. Just the two of us. We went to one of our favorite movie theaters-where the seats reclined and the arm rests were incredibly wide and comfortable.
Before the movie started we waited in line for candy. When we reached the counter my son had a hard time deciding what to get. I tried really hard not to interject (although I was dying to tell him to skip all the candy!). Instead we ended up having a lengthy discussion about which candy was better for you. Seems like a strange conversation to have, but it brought up some real issues. He held up a box of chocolate covered raisins and Sour Patch Kids and we compared ingredients.
The Sour Patch Kids contained:
Sugar, corn syrup, modified corn starch, citric acid, tartaric acid, natural and artificial flavors, yellow 5, yellow 6, red dye no. 40, blue 1
Not much by way of real food in those little candies. When we checked the ingredient list on the chocolate covered raisins this is what we found: No artificial food dyes.
Dark Chocolate (Sugar, Chocolate, Cocoa Butter, Milkfat, Soy Lecithin, Nonfat Milk, Lactose, Artificial & Natural Flavors), Raisins, Sugar, Tapioca Dextrin, Confectioner’s Glaze (Lac-Resin), Alkalized Cocoa
The raisins won the “better for you” contest, although I’m not sure either one truly belongs in this category.
The Scary Truth About Red Dye No. 40
Red food Dye No. 40 was listed on almost every candy package we looked at. Turns out it’s the most commonly used dye in the United States. Red Dye No. 40 or FD&C Red Dye #40, is widely used in the foods and drugs that we consume on a daily basis. It’s been approved by the FDA for use in food products and must be listed as an ingredient on labels.
And it’s not only found in candy. Red Dye No. 40 can be found in soda, salad dressings, toothpaste, mouthwash, and even medicine (think about the lovely pink hue of your antibiotics).
According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest the Red 40 is made from petroleum and possesses a “rainbow of risks to children.” Those risks include hyperactivity in children, cancer (in animal studies), and allergic reactions.
Here’s the crazy part.
Many candy companies in the U.S. use artificial food coloring for the candy they sell and distribute in the United States, but that same candy sold in Europe gets its coloring from natural sources. Food and other products containing artificial food coloring and sold is Europe would have a warning label in that would say: “May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.” We have no warning label in the US.
What continues to amaze me is that these companies are clearly able to remove dangerous artificial food dyes from their products and have done so in other countries, yet they’re not willing to remove them from products sold in America.
What does this say about how these companies value the lives of American children? Seems pretty apparent that they’re less concerned with health than they are with their bottom line.
What you can do about Red Dye No. 40
- READ LABELS: In America all food labels must spell out which artificial food dyes are used in a product. If you see Red 40 listed (or any other color with a number after it) steer clear. Read your labels very carefully so you can make an educated decision about the food you buy. I think you’ll be amazed at how many times Red Dye No. 40 shows up on a label.
- SUPPORT COMPANIES that don’t use artificial food dyes. Let your dollars do the talking!
Do you try to avoid Red Dye No. 40 or other artificial food dyes?