Artificial Food Coloring: Harmless Fun or Health Risk?

Artificial Food Coloring: Harmless Fun or Health Risk?

Anjali Prasertong
Apr 13, 2011

Have you been following the news surrounding food dyes? Late last month the FDA decided against putting warning labels on foods that contain artificial coloring, saying there is not enough evidence it is harmful or causes hyperactivity in children, but we're not so sure. Are the possible risks worth a more colorful diet?

Supporters of artificial food coloring point out that colorless food is less visually appealing and can even taste less flavorful. According to the New York Times:

When tasteless yellow coloring is added to vanilla pudding, consumers say it tastes like banana or lemon pudding. And when mango or lemon flavoring is added to white pudding, most consumers say that it tastes like vanilla pudding.

On the other hand, we have to agree with nutrition professor Marion Nestle, who says, "These dyes have no purpose whatsoever other than to sell junk food." Eating a healthy diet of unprocessed foods will give you plenty of colorful vegetables and fruits, without the possible risks of artificial dyes.

That said, we've been known to eat a pack of Sour Patch Kids or two at the movies. But we'd still enjoy them even if they were colorless!

Read more:
Colorless Food? We Blanch - New York Times
A Gray Area Over Food Dyes - LA Times

What do you think? Do you try to avoid foods with artificial food coloring? Or are you fine with a little color in your (or your kids') diet?

Related: Can I Make Red Velvet Cake With Beets Instead of Dye?

(Image: Flickr member D. Sharon Pruitt licensed under Creative Commons)

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