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.
- Red 40
- Red No. 40
- FD & C Red No. 40
- FD and C Red No. 40
- Allura Red
- Allura Red AC
- C. I. 16035
- 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.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
- Avoid using any foods with artificial dyes
- Read the ingredient list before using them.
- Learn how to make your own colors from plants:
- 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.
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.
- 1/2 cup cooked beets canned
- 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)
- Cupcakes: Blend the water, dates, vanilla, and beet on high till there are no chunks.
- Add the remaining ingredients. Blend till combined.
- Spoon into a cupcake pan that is lightly oiled or use paper liners.
- Bake for 22-24 minutes at 350F.
- Cool completely.
- 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.
- 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.
- Health Line
- Your Daily Vegan
- Integrative Nutrition
- Nourishing Joy