Are Food Colorings Bad for Your Health?

About the Author: Ernesto Sagoes works as an EKG technician and one day hopes to become a nutritionist. He encourages healthy eating habits and whole foods as opposed to packaged and processed goods.

The Food Coloring

The Food Coloring (Photo credit: Matthew Bland)

Anyone who read Stephen King’s “Cujo” was probably terrified of food coloring, at least for a little while. Does food coloring really come with any concerns? Obviously, the scenes from the novel were far-fetched, but the truth is food coloring may be more dangerous than consumers are led to believe. Whether you’re munching on candy or drinking a soda, chances are you’re consuming at least one dye. Add up all the foods you eat that contain coloring and you may want to start paying closer attention to the risks. Here is a closer look at whether or not food colorings are bad for your health.

Common Risks

Food colorings most certainly come with common risks. For example, there are those that cannot digest certain dyes and this is usually quite scary when their parents discover red feces in their child’s diaper. While this condition may not be dangerous, it does make you wonder why the colorings are indigestible. Another common risk is allergies. The most serious concern in the common risks category though is ADHD. A study was preformed in Britain that linked food coloring to hyperactivity in children. These results have yet to be verified by other scientists at this time.

Serious Risks

Unfortunately, common risks aren’t the only problem with food coloring. Food colorings have also been linked to cancer with some containing cancer causing substances and one, Red 3, being labeled as a carcinogen. Advocates against food coloring worry that children may be at more risk because their organs are smaller and there are more colorings in children’s foods.


The truth is food colorings are completely unnecessary. They add no nutritional value and are simply added to foods to make them look more appetizing. However, there are a number of natural food colorings on the market. Beet juice is a great example and is often used in natural and organic candy.

The truth is artificial food colorings may indeed be dangerous to your health. However, that doesn’t stop food companies from adding over 15 million pounds of these dyes to your food. If you’re worried about consuming these brightly colored chemicals, take a stand and purchase foods made without artificial colorings. Instead, opt for companies that use natural dyes or no dyes at all. It may be hard at first, but soon companies will get the message and will take these harmful substances out of our foods.

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