RED – Appealing Danger


Dactylopius coccus costa (female bug) carmine or cochineal extract (Carminic acid)

Red happens to be the most used color out of all the colors in the food industry, especially the most prolific artificially colors in candy.  In nature, red is a very appealing food color; many fruits are colored red to indicate ripeness.  Some of the red coloring we use in food is actually made of crushed bugs (Soylant Red – Carminic acid). Carmine is a beetle native to South America used over many hundreds of years as a dye for blankets and cotton.  Now, it is found in our food.  Eew, creepy, crawly bugs.  Although it is natural, and many cultures eat beetles and other bugs, this one can cause severe allergic reactions.  I don’t know which is worse, the Carmine or the artificially made one from coal tar sludge.

I have learned to extremely enjoy history and how things come to be.  Here is a little history of our appealing first color in this series, the RED40!  History tells us that color additives typically came from substances found in nature, such as turmeric, paprika and saffron.  By the 20th century, new kinds of colors appeared that offered marketers wider coloring possibilities.

In the 1800’s, some manufacturers colored products with potentially poisonous mineral- and metal-based compounds resulting in injury and even death.  To mask poor product quality or spoiled stock, food producers deceived customers by using color additives.  By the 1900’s, unmonitored food colorings spread through many food items that were derived from aniline, a petroleum product that in pure form is toxic and dubbed “coal-tar”.  Strong economic incentives phased out the use of plant, animal, and mineral sources.  In the passage of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938 the FDA’s mandate included the full range of color designations to separate their hues.  Consumers can still read these on product packages: “FD&C” (permitted in food, drugs and cosmetic); “D&C” (for use in drugs and cosmetics) and “Ext. D&C” (colors for external-use drug and cosmetics).  We would be wise to take advantage of this information on packages and become knowledgable of what it all means for our own benefit.

FD&C RED No. 1 – BANNED in 1961 – due to cancer concerns

FD&C RED No. 2 – BANNED in 1976 – carcinogenic; increases bladder tumor risk (found on Florida oranges)

FD&C RED No. 4 – BANNED in 1964 – due to cancer concerns.  They were banned by FDA in foods, ingested drugs, and ingested cosmetics in 1964, but are permitted for external use only.

What happened to FD&C RED 3?

FD&C RED No. 3 (Erythrosine) – was recognized in 1990 by the FDA as a thyroid carcinogen in animals and is banned in cosmetics such as lipsticks, in externally applied drugs and as a pigment form called ‘lakes’ in food, drugs, and cosmetics. The FDA still permits Red 3 in ingested drugs and foods.  It is known to be linked to Thyroid Cancer/linked to allergies and ADHD in children.

Can food dye cause hyperactivity?

Erythrosine, also known as Red No. 3, is an organoiodine compound, specifically a derivative of fluorone.  FD&C RED No. 3 is a synthetic dye with a cherry-pink stain used primarily for food coloring. In foods it is used to dye cake decorating gel, candies and popsicles, among other food items such as sausage to maraschino cherries.

Red 3 was found to cause DNA damage in human liver cells in vitro, comparable to the damage caused by a chemotherapy drug whose whole purpose is to break down DNA, but Red No. 3 was also found to influence children’s behavior over 30 years ago and to interfere with thyroid function over 40 years ago.  Many parents were desperately searching for a solution to their children’s behavior problems.  They knew how debilitating hyperactivity (now called attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD) was to their children and their family.  It is estimated that over half a million children in the United States suffer adverse behavioral reactions after ingesting food dyes.  A good read on the topic of ADHD and food coloring is in this SEEING RED.pdf.

Why is it still legal?

Good question!  By 1985, the FDA had already postponed action on banning the Red No. 3 twenty-six times, even though the Acting Commissioner of the FDA said Red No. 3 was “of greatest public health concern,” imploring his agency to not knowingly allow continued exposure (at high levels in the case of Red No. 3) of the public to “a provisionally listed color additive that has clearly been shown to induce cancer while questions of mechanism are explored.”

That was over 30 years ago and it’s still in our food supply.

In 1990, concerned about cancer risk, the FDA banned the use of Red No. 3 in anything going on our skin, but it remained legal to continue to put it in anything going in our mouths.  Seriously?!

Then we have the BIG RED!

FD&C RED No. 40 – Allura Red AC

FDA regulations state that Red40 must be listed on labels as “FD&C Red No. 40” or “Red40.” However, manufacturers don’t have to specify how much is in their product.

As mentioned above, RED40 Is the most-widely used dye and is a certified color that comes from petroleum distillates or coal tars.  Red is one of the most prolific artificial colors in candy.  Allura Red (AC) was originally introduced in the United States as
a replacement for the use of amaranth as a food coloring.  However, Allura Red (AC) is banned in many European countries solely.

Dyes lack nutritional value and are often used as cheap replacements for healthful ingredients. For example, most of the color in the “carrot- flavored pieces” in Betty Crocker’s Super Moist Carrot Cake Mix comes not from the smidgen of carrot powder, but from the Yellow 6 and Red40 dyes.  Similarly, there are no cherries or berries in Tropicana Twister Cherry Berry Blast.  The color comes primarily from Red40.

Foods that aren’t red or orange can still include Red 40.

  • You can find it, and other artificial food colors (AFCs), in cheeses, peanut butter crackers, salad dressings, and marshmallows.  Do you consume any of these products?  Bakery, Candy, Cereals, Dairy, Drinks, Sauces, Snacks

  • You can also find red dye in drinks marketed as healthy, such as sports drinks and nutritional shakes.  
  • Red dyes are also found in these foods that are not red. For example red dye is used in combination with yellow food coloring to give peanut butter-flavored food a golden color.
  • Even unexpected foods such as pizza may contain red dye, so it’s necessary to scan or read the labels of everything you purchase. This includes foods marketed as healthy such as fiber bars and oatmeal with fruit.

I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more products with RED40 under these categories.  Learning a new habit to read the labels would be better.  Here is a list of the different RED40 names.

  1. Red 40
  2. Red No. 40
  3. FD & C Red No. 40
  4. FD and C Red No. 40
  5. Allura Red
  6. Allura Red AC
  7. C. I. 16035
  8. C.I. Food Red 17
  • Allura Red has been determined to cause behavioral & developmental problems in children (increased hyperactivity in 8‐ to 9‐years old children) and is a carcinogenic & mutagenic azo dye causing cancer growth in cells.
  • Red40 lowers reproductive success in rats. It also reduced parental and offspring weight, decreased brain weight, and lowered chances for survival in newborn rats.
  • Artificial red is known as a toxic endocrine disruptor.  This means it disrupts normal hormone function.

The allowed amount of food dyes certified per person has more than doubled over the past four decades:  10 mg was the typical daily challenge dose of Red40, 14 people may consume as much as 52 mg of Red40 in a day, according to the FDA in 2014, and some children between the ages of 2 and 5 consume 38 mg of Red40 in a day.  Ironically, two-forms of the drug Ritalin, which is often used to treat children with ADHD, contain dyes as the first inactive ingredient.

After receiving much backlash from concerned consumers, some companies are now using natural dyes as alternatives to Red40. These Red40 alternatives can be derived from natural products such as beets, elderberry, and purple sweet potatoes.

It is very encouraging to see that major companies including Kraft, Campbell Soup, Frito-Lay, General Mills, Kellogg, Chick- l-A, Panera, Subway, and Taco Bell have pledged to stop using AFCs in their products.  For these companies to make such a commitment is huge, but the battle continues on and are still commonplace in supermarkets, schools, and restaurants, which puts the burden on families to learn of dyes’ effects and try to keep their children from eating artificially dyed foods.


  1. Avoid using any foods with artificial dyes
  2. Read the ingredient list before using them.
  3. Learn how to make your own colors from plants:
  4. Please visit my blog post Power & Passion of the benefits of natural red foods.

Vegetable powders are great ways to add vivid colors without adding excess liquid, so if you’re wanting a deep red, for example, use beet powder rather than beet juice.


  • pure beet juice
  • beet powder
  • pure pomegranate juice
  • red raspberry purée, strained to remove seeds

To make a concentrate, place about 1 cup of freshly squeezed juice over very low heat. The only way Nourishing Joy has been able to do this successfully is with a mini-crockpot. She uses this one.  (I do not benefit from this sale.)

Leave the lid off the pot so the liquid can evaporate and heat until the juice begins to thicken and drips slowly off a spoon rather than running off easily, about 24 hours, give or take 8 hours depending on your climate and pot. The liquid will be less than 1/4 of its original volume.  Store in the refrigerator for 2-4 weeks.

Red Sprinkles

1. Peel, then thinly and evenly slice or grate beets and place on a dehydrator sheet.

2. Set temperature to 150′ and dehydrate until crispy.

3. Allow to cool then remove and pulse in blender. For small jobs you can use this.

4. Store in an airtight container until ready to use.

Red Liquid

  1. 1/2 cup cooked beets canned
  2. 1/2 cup of beet juice

Blend until smooth.  Strain.  Pour in glass container and store in fridge for up to 4-6 weeks

Buy the bottle to store here at Amazon.  (I do not benefit from a sale.)

If you do not want to make your own, here is Natures Flavors in powder and liquid forms.  (I do not benefit from a sale.)

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Gluten-free vegan red velvet cupcakes with a natural red hue, a tangy frosting, and a secret chocolate center. Delicious, healthy, and with no oil or sugar!

For a visual live demonstration click here.

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 6 cupcakes


  • 1 cup [pitted Medjool dates (about 12)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 small beet (about 1.5 inch diameter, peeled)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tsps cacao powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup oat flour


  • 8 pitted Medjool dates
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk or water
  • 2 tbsps cacao powder


  • 6 oz . coconut yogurt (So Delicious Plain Greek Cultured Coconut Milk)


  1. Cupcakes: Blend the water, dates, vanilla, and beet on high till there are no chunks.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients. Blend till combined.
  3. Spoon into a cupcake pan that is lightly oiled or use paper liners.
  4. Bake for 22-24 minutes at 350F.
  5. Cool completely.
  6. Chocolate Filling: Blend all the ingredients till smooth. Remove the center of the cupcakes with a cupcake corer or a small cooke cutter. Spoon in the filling.
  7. Frosting: If the yogurt is lumpy, whisk first, then pipe or spread onto cooled and filled cupcakes. Serve immediately.

If you try any of these, I would love to hear your thoughts about it and what you used the color red for.

Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by.  It shows your interest in health or your curiosity.  If you enjoyed this post, please press the follow button, like it, and share how it helped you.  If you know someone who could be helped by this information please pass it on. People are destroyed from a lack of knowledge. Hosea 4:6.  I’d be very grateful if you’d help it spread the word so that more people can live their best life now free and to the fullest.


  1. Feingold
  2. Health Line
  3. Your Daily Vegan
  4. RED40
  5. Integrative Nutrition
  6. Feastingonfruit
  7. Nourishing Joy
  8. EataPlayLoveMore
  9. BiggerBolderBaking

A Rainbow of Risks

We need to celebrate!  LIFE is to be celebrated, and with full color!!

We are all geared to celebrating as much as we can, right?  We have even come up with reasons beyond the normal holidays as reasons to celebrate.  Take the Gender Reveal Parties for instance. The opportunities are endless.

Why do we celebrate?  

It brings people together, as a collective whole to remember, celebrate, support one another, to encourage one another, and to build bridges amongst one another.  We live in a world with so much negativity, and we want to forget the troubles we face.  Celebrating allows us to be happy and experience the peace that is required to improve and help the world.  Celebrating make us pause and be mindful and also boosts our well-being.

What reasons have you come up with to celebrate?

But with all of our celebrating, we are also partaking in a rainbow of risks.  

What do I mean by rainbow of risks?  All synthetic (chemical imitation of a natural product) colors additives (dyes) that are certified by the FDA.  Certified colors are synthetically produced (or human made) and used widely.  These dyes are complex organic chemicals that were originally derived from coal-tar, but now from petroleum.  Petroleum is estrogen dominant linked to infertility, menstrual problems, accelerated aging, allergies and autoimmune problems as well as nutrient deficiencies, sleep problems, and even some types of cancers.  Antifreeze may be added to the chemical cocktail to help retain its color.

As far back as the 1870s and 1880s and the early 20th century, food dye was normalized with the artificial coloring of food.  In the 1960s and ’70s, there was a return to a back-to-nature movement and against chemicals.  In the 14th century, European farmers colored butter carrot juice and annatto (red-orange pulp from a tropical fruit). In the mid- to late 19th century American farmers began coloring butter by using food dyes.  In the early 20th century, many consumers were frightened by those bright-red foods, but they still liked them because they hadn’t seen such bright color’s like that before.  Food company’s advertised they were using FDA approved colors, but there were very real dangers.  People actually died from eating some candy.

Here is a list of the FDA’s 9 accepted food dyes:  The Rainbow of Risks

  1. Citrus Red No. 2
  2. Red No. 3 (Erythrosine)
  3. Red No. 40 (Allura Red)
  4. Yellow No. 5 (Tartrazine)
  5. Yellow No. 6 (Sunset Yellow)
  6. Blue No. 1 (Brilliant Blue)
  7. Blue No. 2 (Indigo Carmine)
  8. Green No 3.
  9. Orange B

There are some potential problems with food dyes, specifically:

  • Carcinogenicity – leading to cancer development
  • Genotoxicity – leading to mutations or damaging chromosomes
  • Neurotoxicity – leading to the damage of nerve tissue

The most popular food dyes are Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6. These three make up 90% of all the food dye used in the US, in particular breakfast cereals, candy, snacks, beverages, vitamins, and other products aimed at children are colored with dyes. Even some fresh oranges are dipped in dye to brighten them and provide uniform color, says Michael Jacobson, executive director at CSPI.

Food dyes are one of the most widely used artificial chemicals added to our food supply and are deceptively dangerous.  Color additives are categorized as either dyes or lakes.

Dyes dissolve in water and are manufactured as powders, granules, liquids or other special-purpose forms. They can be used in beverages, dry mixes, baked goods, dairy products, jams, pudding, pie filling, yogurt, popsicles, pet foods and a variety of other products.

Lakes are the water-insoluble form of the dye. Lakes are more stable than dyes and are ideal for coloring products containing fats and oils, or items without enough moisture to dissolve dyes. Typical uses include coated tablets, cake and donut mixes, cheese, margarine, candy and chewing gums.

Why Companies Go Artificial (synthetic, fake)

Food manufacturers know that we eat with our eyes, and apparently the brighter the better.  Brighter is more exciting.  It is good marketing.  They create an appeal to the consumer, grabbing our attention. Think of food coloring like cosmetics to give the food a face lift.

Artificial food dye consumption has increased by 500% in the last 50 years, and children are the biggest consumers.  In the favorite classical movie “Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang” we all remember the child catcher who entices the children to come out of hiding with all his goodies.  This is what the food manufacturers are doing, enticing the masses with fun, colorful treats to lure us into their lair and appease the kid inside each of us.  Once the consumer buys the product they find themselves a slave, a prisoner to the artificial, fake food.

The certified colors are used widely for intense, uniformity of color, and because they blend easily to create a variety of hues. Certain colors are approved for a specific food types.  Companies like using them because they are cheaper, more stable, and brighter than most natural colorings.  They bring foods a longer lasting shelf life.  These dyes are also used in drugs and cosmetics mainly for identifying purposes, and are hiding in places we may not expect like toothpaste, pickles, and yogurt.  When certain colors are used they automatically bring to mind an identification of the real food, ie. blue for blueberries.  Just think without food coloring your hot dogs would be grey.  How many people would buy a grey colored hot dog?

About 70% of the diet of the average U.S. resident is from processed foods.  15,016,634 dyes of all nine colors are certified through the FDA in these processed foods.  Now that’s an unbelievable amount!

From their own web site, the FDA claims no harmful results come from the consumption, yet the variety of artificial chemical colors are linked to health concerns, including allergic reactions, behavioral changes including ADD & ADHD, and even cancer. Even after continual efforts, the FDA continues to do nothing.  The FDA’s data show a dramatic five-fold increase in consumption of dyes since 1955.  It looks like American’s have increased their intake of processed foods.

“These synthetic chemicals do absolutely nothing to improve the nutritional quality or safety of foods, but trigger behavior problems in children and, possibly, cancer in anybody,” said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson, co-author of the 58-page report, “Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks.”

These same dyes rainbow of risks have been banned from our animal laboratories continue to be manufactured and stocked on grocery shelves and finally grabbed by parents making their way to the shelves at home without giving any further thought to the risks involved in their family’s health.  I believe that all parents want fun and goodies to give to their children, but rarely think of the consequences these goodies offer from these trusted food giants.  Most tragic thing of all are that the children who rely on their parents to provide healthy, wholesome, nutritious foods are being taken by the villain (food manufacturers) right out from underneath the parents noses.

In a 58-page 2010 report, “Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks,” CSPI reveals nine food dyes that are currently approved for use in the United States linking to a range of health issues ranging from cancer and hyperactivity to allergy-like reactions. These results were from studies conducted by the chemical industry itself.  It is worth noting that dyes are not pure chemicals, but may contain upwards of 10 percent impurities that are in the chemicals from which dyes are made or develop in the manufacturing process.  (FDA 2018 approved colors)

Are you or your children sensitive to synthetic food coloring?

You cannot look to the FDA for help.  The FDA blames sensitive individuals, not dyes.  We must take action with our “pocket books”.  You can continue to provide fun, colorful celebrations just find alternatives.
But, we cannot just blame the FDA’s regulation and the food manufacturers alone, the consumer’s demands can drive change. That’s right.  We are partially to blame.  We can break away from our addiction to these processed foods.  Here are some ways:

  1. Focus on real foods from the produce section.
  2. Buy organic.
  3. Read Labels looking for real ingredients.  Most eight-year-olds reading labels. Not many adults do either.
  4. Educate yourself – begin by following this series.
  5. Start making your own foods and stay away from the processed.

Considering the adverse impact of these chemicals on children, and considering how easily they can be replaced with safe, natural ingredients.

Most synthetic dyes have dropped out of the food supply in Europe, yet they still sell the same foods in the U.S.  Half a million in the U.S. suffer from the above mentioned conditions.

I would like to help you discover the risks and dangers of the common nine artificial colors used in the food that lines our grocer’s shelves.  But, I won’t leave you hanging without giving you some great alternatives.  Dare I suggest conquering the growing everyday tensions and anxieties we face by having a Detox Party?

If you eat processed food, you are most likely eating food color additives. Many experts have raised health concerns about food color additives.

Consumers have used to successfully communicate to these giant companies.  This communication has resulted in the following companies, as of July 28, 2015, that have promised to removed artificial dyes from their products by 2018.   Kraft who has removed artificial dyes from Mac & Cheese products, Subway, Pizza Hut, Chipotle, Nestle, Papa John’s, Campbell Soup, Taco Bell and Panera eliminated these dyes, and General Mills and Mars announced they’re doing away with them as well!  

It would be great to support those places that have removed these artificial dyes from their product lines.  We, the consumer, must keep these giants accountable.  Keep an eye on their products and ask to read labels.  In addition, if you would like to take action, tell the FDA to Ban Harmful Synthetic Food Dyes here.

Let’s celebrate LIFE together the right way, in a positive way, and make it the best LIFE ever!

Let’s celebrate together by sharing how you celebrate by leaving a comment!

Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by.  It shows your interest in health or your curiosity.  If you enjoyed this post or learned something new, please press the follow button, like it, and share how it helped you.  If you know someone who could be helped by this information please pass it on. People are destroyed from a lack of knowledge. Hosea 4:6.  I’d be very grateful if you’d help spread the word so that more people can live their best life now free and to the fullest.

The Atlantic