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Is Red 40 Food Coloring Dangerous to Your Health?

by |
author image Amy Long Carrera
Amy Long Carrera is a registered dietitian in Los Angeles who has been writing since 2007 for such publications as The Insider, On the Other Side and Arthritis Today. She is a certified nutrition support clinician and her writing employs current research to provide evidence-based nutrition information. Carrera holds a master of science degree in nutrition from California State University, Northridge.
Is Red 40 Food Coloring Dangerous to Your Health?
Red fruit punch in glasses with orange slivers. Photo Credit destillat/iStock/Getty Images

Red food coloring is the most commonly used dye in the U.S., according to Center for Science in the Public Interest. It is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in candy, cereal, baked goods, gelatin powder, drugs and cosmetics. Synthetically derived from petroleum, the additive is also known as FD&C Red No. 40, Allura Red and Red 40. Although most of the dye you ingest is excreted from your body, Red 40 has potential for serious side effects, states the CSPI.

Red Light

Red 40 may cause symptoms of hypersensitivity in some people, including swelling around the mouth, and it may also cause hives. The colorant might contain contaminants that may contribute to cancer in humans and could trigger hyperactivity in children. In a handful of studies, Red 40 damaged the DNA of mice, according to the CSPI.

Go Natural

Many food products contain a mixture of dyes that includes Red 40 and the combined effect is not well-known. Limit your intake of Red 40 and other food dyes. Choose products that contain paprika, beet juice, carotene, red cabbage and turmeric for coloring instead of synthetic dyes.

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