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24 June 2014

The Dangers Of Toxic Food Colouring - Savvy Mums Beware

Walk into any grocery store and what do you see in the bakery department? Brightly coloured cakes and cupcakes beckoning to the kids to plead with Mum, "Can we get this, Mum.... please.... pretty please with a cherry on top!" The next time your kids beg you to buy an item like this, I want you to remember the answer to the following question: What does red velvet cake, blue frosted cupcakes, white cake decorated with bright pink roses, and doughnuts with multi-coloured sprinkles all have in common?

Answer: They are all loaded with petroleum based food dyes that have been found to cause brain tumours and trigger hyperactivity, especially in kids who already have ADD or ADHD. They also suppress the immune system and affect memory and concentration. Some learning disabilities are exacerbated by eating petroleum based food dyes.

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Any time you see bright colours in processed foods, you can assume that toxic petroleum based food dyes are being used to produce those colours unless it is otherwise stated. Instead of these bright food colours being a beacon tempting adults and children to eat them, they should be viewed as a warning sign that the food is laced with toxins. This is a good lesson to teach the kids too.

Food dyes are among the most dangerous food additives that children eat. Unfortunately, the marketing for many processed foods that contain these toxins specifically targets children. These include favourite kid foods like hot dogs, lunch meats, fruit juices, macaroni and cheese, cereal, cheese crackers, lollipops, popsicles, ice cream, and the flavourings on potato chips and other snack foods.

The saddest part about toxic food dyes being added to food is the fact that there is always a safer way to produce the same colour in foods, or at least get very close to it. For example, beet juice can turn cake roses blood red or hot pink while imparting little to no flavour. Boiled cabbage juice can turn cupcake frosting blue. Chlorophyll from healthy plants like spinach can turn the rose stems and leaves on cakes brilliant green. However, almost no store bakeries use these safe alternatives. Instead, their bakers reach for the toxic food colouring bottles.

It is important to note that while toxic food dyes have been officially sanctioned as safe by governmental entities, this does not mean they are actually safe. In fact, numerous research studies prove otherwise. Of course, the cause and effect observations by savvy Mums also demonstrate this is true. 

Many petroleum based food dyes that are considered safe in one country will be listed as toxic and banned in another country. For example, the United States Federal Drug Administration (FDA) still lists FD&C Red 40 as GRAS (generally recognized as safe) and it is used extensively by food manufacturers. Before 2011, this same toxic food dye was also listed as safe in England and other European countries but it was labelled as E129 or Allura Red AC. However, it has since been banned by the European Union. So, one day it was considered "safe" and the next day it was banned for being "toxic." You can see why it is best not to listen to our capricious governmental entities and just steer clear of all petroleum based food dyes! They are all toxic, whether they are listed that way or not.

To understand why they are all toxic, it is important to know that all petroleum based food dyes have a very similar chemical structure, and therefore, they can all cause similar health issues in your children including behavioural problems and neurological degradation. Therefore, it is important not to get lulled into a false sense of security if your government happens to ban one or two of the petroleum based food dyes but not others. Just because they may not have been studied as extensively or received as much press does not mean they aren't just as toxic.

The good news is that food companies are required by law to label all the government sanctioned food dyes found in their products. Therefore, if you check the food label and find ingredients like E102 (Tartrazine), E104 (Quinoline Yellow), E122 (Carmoisine), E124 (Ponceau 4R), E131 (Patent Blue V), and E142 (Green S), you will know that you should avoid that product for your kids! 

Savvy Mums can really make a difference when it comes to banning petroleum based food dyes and other food toxins. A good example of this was when Vani Hari exposed on her blog the fact that Kraft was using harmful petroleum based dyes to turn their Macaroni & Cheese bright yellow and then marketing this product directly to kids! Mums all over the world went on the war path through social media, email, phone calls, letters, and good old-fashioned product boycotts! Long story short, Kraft has now removed these toxins from all their products marketed to kids in all countries. Hooray for the dedicated actions of these savvy Mums! 

You can make a difference too by just refusing to buy products that contain these toxic ingredients. When you take such an action, go to the company's website and tell them why you are no longer buying their product. Spread the word on social media channels and elsewhere when you discover one of these toxic dyes in foods. Teach your children about this important issue by being a good example and by sitting them down and telling them you don't want them to eat food that containing toxins. Explain that this could hurt them because you love them so much. The more Mums take such a stand and the more kids learn and pass this along to other kids, the closer we get to shaming the big food companies into not using these toxic food dyes. There are safe alternatives so why don't they use them in all their products? You can ask them that by the way!

Stay tuned for another post in the near future on how to make your own completely non-toxic homemade food dyes so you can turn those birthday cakes bright pink or brilliant blue without worrying about toxins.