America's Most Frequently Dyed Foods

America's Most Frequently Dyed Foods

Chris Perez
Sep 12, 2013

Recently a friend and I stopped in to try out a new sushi bar setup inside our neighborhood Whole Foods. We started with a mandatory carafe of sake and a seaweed salad, a particular favorite of mine as of late. When the first round of orders came out, my friend commented how the seaweed salad wasn't bright green, as we're used to seeing. We then realized this was because the salad wasn't dyed for visual appeal. That got me thinking about what other food is commonly dyed to the point where its natural color is unexpected.

We didn't have to look far across the sushi tray to notice another commonly color-treated victim. Ginger.

On our trays the ginger was presented in pale yellow, as you'd expect if you've ever chopped a piece of fresh ginger root, instead of the bright pink shavings we're so used to consuming.

Although I couldn't find any official stats, I'd wager that fish and beef are the most color-treated foods we regularly consume. Most of us are aware of grocery stores' practice to dye meats a more vibrant shade of red. Unfortunately, it's become so commonplace that we as a society just accept and expect it, despite knowing better.

Cheese, particularly the kind that's powderized or shielded in foil, is also often 'color-corrected.' In fact, the use of dyes in food has been cause for regulation by the FDA in the past, and the UK has even taken some measures requiring labels on dyed foods that warn of its possible effects. For example, a label that says "this product may have adverse effect on activity and attention in children" is required on all products in UK that use dyes Yellow #5 and Yellow #6. This has caused some UK companies to color their food with more natural ingredients like paprika and beetroot. Is it time we followed suit?

What other foods are commonly dyed here in the US?

(Images: 1. svry/Shutterstock; 2. Faith Durand 3. Luis Santos/Shutterstock; 4. Alaettin YILDIRIM/Shutterstock; 5. MSPhotographic/Shutterstock)

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