November 13, 2009

Food Coloring Effects and Allergies

Posted in Category : Common Ailments

Do you feel sometimes that the pasta you ate in the restaurant looked drab when you tried the same at home? It may be time to look at food’s true colors. Eye catchy colors are not only meant to attract children but also us. And it serves the same purpose in food too. Food coloring and additives are pretty much added to all commercial food and beverages, like candy, cakes, ice creams, doughnuts, snack crackers, fruit juices, wine, cereals, and marinades, and sometimes even to the food that may be served to you in a restaurant. But more and more studies are being conducted to shed light on the adverse effects of commercial food dyes and its side effects. Food coloring and food additives serve two different purposes in the commercial food industry. Food coloring is added to make the consumable tasty and delicious while food additives are added to improve the shelf-life of the product. But both have one thing in common, its use of artificial chemicals. The question is, are these chemicals safe to consume? Studies by the Center for Science in Public Interests have shown how these chemically attractive and enhanced food products could lead to an array of health and nutrition risks.

Particular food colorings and additives bring out potential health  problems. Artificial food colors like Citrus Red 2, Red 3, Red 40, Green 3, Blue 1, Blue 2, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 have been linked to cancer, due to its use of potential carcinogenic-causing chemicals. Most of the Yellow food dyes like Sunset Yellow and Tartrazine have been said to cause allergies, thyroid issues, nasal congestion, asthma, kidney tumors, indigestion, vomiting, hyperactivity, chromosomal damage and much more.

Children are at greater health risks than adults to chemical-exposure, mainly because their bodies are still in its developing stages and vulnerable to food color’s side effects. Studies have shown that food dyes can be a possible reason for hyperactivity, attention deficit disorder and other related health problems. The fact is that artificial food dyes and additives add no nutritional value to food, it serves merely a purposes of making food look more appealing and last longer. But more and more food conglomerates are looking into replacing artificial food dyes with natural dyes. But are all natural dyes safe too? Some research says that annatto food color, the popular natural dye made of the seed coat of the annatto tree can be the cause of headaches, rare allergic reactions, gastrointestinal problems, skin issues and central nervous system reactions.

If your child or you have an allergic reaction to a food coloring, it is best to consult a physician immediately. Allergies can vary from being mild to fatal. Mild reactions usually go away without treatment. Your doctor will be able to prescribe and help you deal with this problem the best. For severe allergic reactions, an inject-able epinephrine may be needed to be carried around and it is advisable to also wear a medical alert bracelet. The main thing you can do is to stay away from foods that contain artificial coloring and additives. Read the labels of the products you buy carefully. Substitute artificial food coloring with organic natural coloring. Try and avoid buying processed and canned food, instead switch to using fresh and natural ingredients. Instill good eating habits in your children, and tough as it may be, limit their junk food, candy, carbonated beverages and other non-nutritious food intake to the minimum. You can make their favorite fast-food meals at home using nutritious ingredients, and make eating at home a fun and delightful experience. Food for thought: It’s time to judge your food by its color!