Food Dyes Linked to Cancer

Food Dyes in glasses Did you know that in the United States alone we consume an estimated 15 million pounds of food dyes per year? That’s a whole lot of dye going into our foods, our bodies, and our children’s bodies. Not only do these food dyes cause behavior problems like hyperactivity in children, they have now been linked to childhood cancers, according to Michael F. Jacobson, Executive Director of CSPI (Center for Science in Public Interest) and co-author of the latest report on this serious health danger, “Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks.”

Food Dyes and Cancer

In a recent study by CSPI, food dyes were linked to serious health problems in children. That’s right, the food dyes that are currently being poured into our daily foods are known carcinogens and clearly linked to childhood cancers. These are the foods children innocently consume for breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner. Day after day, year after year. These perilous dyes are poisoning our bodies, particularly our children’s vulnerable, still-growing bodies.

Poisoning Our Children with Food Dyes

One of the most frightening things going on here is that so many of the foods children consume on a daily basis are loaded with these deadly dyes. These are the foods that are being heavily promoted on the children’s television stations, in their magazines, in the stores, and everywhere you can think of. The highly persuasive and misleading ads cause our children to beg for these foods. From chips and fruit snacks to breakfast cereals and lunch meats, these dyes are found everywhere and our children are consuming them more and more everyday.

In fact the same report by CSPI reveals that our consumption of food dyes has increased five times over the last fifteen years alone.

It takes a minute to let this soak in for most people. The realization that these common food dyes are directly linked to cancers, and more alarmingly–childhood cancers. It’s hard to believe. In fact we really don’t want to believe it.

But if you (and I know you do), want to protect your children (and yourself) from the deadly diseases that result from these hazardous toxins, take heed!

Getting the Real Facts on Food Dyes

According to the CSPI report, “Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risk,” the most frequently used dyes that are found to be carcinogenic are the following:

  • Red 40
  • Yellow 5
  • Yellow 6

Sadly these three dyes are also the food dyes most used and found in all varieties of foods. From candy M & Ms to salad dressings, these three carcinogenic dyes abound in our foods.

Take a look in your own cabinets. Read the labels. What do you see? Chances are if you’re like most common households in the West there are a few things in your pantry with at least one of the food dyes listed above.

Who Will Protect Our Children?

As I first read this report I was shocked to find out just how dangerous food dyes are. I was alarmed actually. My thoughts immediately went to the government’s own FDA (Food and Drug Administration) thinking that once they know, they’ll ban these food dyes and protect us. But as I read on, I realized I was wrong.

According to CSPI in 1985 the then acting commissioner of the FDA urged the American government to ban the use of Red dye 3 that was clearly shown to cause cancer.

This urgency was pushed aside as John Block, then the current Secretary of Agriculture, fought to keep Red 3 in foods. It stayed and despite its direct link to cancer, the United States uses 200,000 pounds of dangerous Red 3 in our food annually.

The United States government simply isn’t taking action, but you can.

Shopping by Senses: Colors Sell

So why is our government keeping dangerous dyes in our foods? There is no benefit of these dyes except for increasing the appeal of these nutrient devoid foods. The colors fool the consumer into thinking they may just be a healthy food choice. The consumer couldn’t be more wrong.

Think about it. When you are browsing the shelves at the local grocery store what appeals to you? Whether you are aware of it or not, colors draw on the emotions of the consumer. Would you buy a box of fruit chews or a bottle of salad dressing that was a sickly, brownish green color? Probably not. But with the dyes added that same product suddenly becomes a deep red or bright yellow and we are fooled into thinking it’s healthy, or at least it appeals to us.

We all shop with our senses. Advertisers bank on it and are winning big. Smell, sight, touch, and more tell us what to buy. We listen, and so do the food manufacturers. They keep pouring more dyes into our foods and we keep buying them with no idea about what we are really putting into our bodies.

Is the Government Protecting Your Health or Selling You Out?

If you’re like me you may be a bit baffled as to why our own government isn’t telling us about these health dangers in our own foods. You may wonder why these dangerous dyes haven’t been yanked off the market immediately.

We could theorize on the reasons why the United States has allowed these dangerous dyes to stay in our foods or we can look at the facts and take action on our own.

It’s refreshing to realize that not all governments are sitting by idly. In fact, the Australian government is currently considering banning food dyes from a number of their foods, particularly breakfast cereals and confectionery items. Both of these foods are heavily consumed by many children.

Europe is reacting to this too.

The European Union has passed into law that any food product containing food dyes must come with a visible warning label. This label must be on all foods by this past July 2010 according to the CSPI. And in Britain, the government asked food manufacturers to phase out food dyes by December 2010.

The food manufacturers have responded in countries where the government reacted. But here in America, most consumers continue on, oblivious to the dangers of food dyes, eating more and more each day.

In Britain you’ll find a strawberry sundae at McDonald’s that looks delicious and is colored with good ole’ strawberries. That same sundae in the United States is colored with Red dye 40.

Another example is with the British version of Fanta soda. The British version is bright orange with extracts from pumpkin and carrots. In America? That same soda is colored orange with Red dye 40 and Yellow dye 6. A colored cocktail of sickness.

The changes that need to be made are simple but until that happens it’s up to you and me to take action in our daily lives.

Empower Yourself Today

You may be outraged that you didn’t know about all this before, or that the government hasn’t banned these dangerous dyes. And while we are all justified to feel this way there are better ways to direct your energy.

It’s up to each individual to make the decisions for him or herself and their families about what they will put into their bodies. We can’t rely on the government nor can we blame them once we know the facts about foods dyes.

Now that you know, you’ve become empowered and it’s time to make a change. It’s not complicated. It’s actually quite basic. Eating foods that are real foods, not fake foods, are the best way to avoid eating dangerous dyes.

If you choose fresh, whole foods that come from nature and go through no or very little processing then you won’t have to worry about dyes in your foods.

All of the foods that contain these carcinogenic food dyes are fake foods. They’re the foods you’ll find in boxes, bags, jars, and bottles lining the grocery store shelves. They’re the fruit chews that tell the consumer they’ll be getting a serving of fruit in each bag; the highly processed and refined chips that would probably be an ugly green color if it weren’t for the Yellow 6 dye they added.

When you shop for produce locally, you’ll eat what’s in season as God intended you to eat it. You won’t be fooled by ‘fake’ colors on your fruits and veggies. If it’s old and unhealthy, its natural colors and smell will reveal that to you, and you won’t buy it.

When a piece of fruit or a vegetable is too old and not completely healthy for us it begins to rot, stink, feels mushy, and turns brown. Our senses tell us not to eat it. These same senses that the food manufacturers count on tricking by adding dye to very unhealthy foods – and coincidentally make them even unhealthier.

Now that you understand more about what’s going on with the foods that line the grocery store shelves, take action to protect you and your loved ones from succumbing to lifestyle diseases from what we’re eating.

Sources

Medical News Today (2010)

Center for Science in the Public Interest (2010)


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