Baking with the kids this weekend got me thinking about food dyes and additives. What does the research say about how they affect our bodies, as well as how they affect behavior? There are some studies that have shown a possible link to cancer (Blue 2), as well as industry-sponsored tests that have linked others to tumors of the adrenal gland and kidney (Yellow#6). These findings were amongst those that prompted the British government to request that artificial dyes be removed from food products. The link between food additives and hyperactivity is under-researched at the moment. There has been research that suggests Yellow #5 can cause “allergy-like hypersensitivity reactions in aspirin-sensitive persons” and “may trigger hyperactivity in some children” according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (www.cspinet.org). CSPI also points out that Yellow #5 is the second most widely used coloring. Since many of these studies look at a combination of additives and their affects, more research is needed to pinpoint which additives are truly behind symptoms.
In the meantime, I’m going to continue to try to limit the amount of artificial additives to my family’s food. This is a difficult task since we are in the midst of a few holidays where artificially flavored candies and treats are commonplace. But, I’m going to start at home and what we use to bake and decorate. Here are some brands that offer all natural food colorings and flavorings. All derive their colors from vegetables and edible plants and are approved by the EU and FDA. It is important to note that natural colors can be affected by high heat and may cause them to brown or fade a bit. But, I guess this is a small price to pay for knowing that what you’re giving your children is all natural and safe.
Where to find all natural food coloring: