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Food Dyes in the Diet

The amount of food dye in the average American's daily diet has quadrupled in the last 50 years. Currently, there are seven artificial food colorings approved for use in the United States, including:
 
  • Brilliant blue (FD&C Blue #1)
  • Indigotine (FD&C Blue #2)
  • Fast green (Green #3)
  • Tartrazine (Yellow #5b)
  • Sunset yellow (Yellow #6b)
  • Erythrosine (Red #3)
  • Allura red (Red #40b).
 
Two other artificial food colorings are approved for limited use: citrus red (Citrus Red #2), which is used to color orange rinds, and Orange B, which is used to color sausage and hot dog casings. These dyes are found in all sorts of foods, from the obvious (brightly colored candy and soda) to the surprising (mayonnaise).
 
The ingredients panel on food packaging should tell you if any of these food colorings are used. Carefully reading food labeling information is the first step to eliminating artificial food colorings from the diet.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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