In 6th grade band class I decided to eat Doritos right before my clarinet lesson. After eating and playing, I noticed the reed turned red. In 6th grade, that means “get another one”.
In adulthood, to me it means concern. The dye is an additive of course, so what are the risks associated with these “additives” everyone’s been talking about and how do they affect me?
Whether you know me personally or not, lately I’ve been reading and studying koalas. Every day I’m talking about their habits, diet or thinking about them in some way. Today it hit me- you’d never see a koala eating anything with Red Dye #40 in the trees of Australia (or going to clarinet lessons for that matter).
We, humans, are much more advanced and intelligent than our koala friends. However, even the simple creatures can, unknowingly, point us to healthier eating. Our foods are processed, sprayed, dyed and disfigured to somehow preserve, add fun, and consumer appeal. The food market is saturated and competitive so it’s only natural that over time, we’d come to our current state of market conditions.
Back in 2010, I conducted an experiment. It went a little like this:
Goal : Eat only raw, non-processed and 100% organic foods for 14 days.
By then end, I was hungry, tired and broke. Even in organic sections of the store, you aren’t sure if the food is “100% organic”. The truth is unless you’re growing it in the backyard you can never be 100% certain where it came from or how it was harvested/treated. Some foods are allowed to carry the organic seal even if they are under 100%.One site I really like that describes organic labeling is the The George Mateljan Foundation
for The World’s Healthiest Foods. They list the following below:
- Food that is 100 percent organic may carry the new “USDA organic” label and say “100% organic.”
- Food that is at least 95 percent organic may carry the new seal.
- Food that is at least 70 percent organic will list the organic ingredients on the front of the package.
- If a product is less than 70 percent organic, the organic ingredients may be listed on the side of the package but cannot say “organic” on the front.
We know more about organic and what counts as organic (good tips for your next shopping trip). Yet the focus of this article is Red #40 and to get to the bottom of it, I’ve brought one of the many stories online right here (Red Dye #40 stories never cease to amuse me). One from BrightHub.com mentions Red #40 linked to ADHD:
Red 40 dye, an artificial coloring that is added to many food and drink products, has been linked to ADHD and found to potentially increase hyperactivity and irritability in children. Those who are sensitive to the red 40 dye can sometimes benefit from having the additive removed from their diet
I don’t see any specific study linked, therefore the saying goes “don’t believe everything you read”. For the facts though, I lead you to the Center for Science in the Public Interest,
[Red 40] The most widely used food dye. While this is one of the most-tested food dyes, the key mouse tests were flawed and inconclusive. An FDA review committee acknowledged problems, but said evidence of harm was not “consistent” or “substantial.” Red 40 can cause allergy-like reactions. Like other dyes, Red 40 is used mainly in junk foods.
Inconclusive, but not exactly comforting. Truth is there are tons of “potentially” harmful drugs, foods, additives and so forth. The good news is if you’re not allergic to Red Dye #40, limiting your intake would be the safest way to go. If it isn’t Red Dye #40, it’ll certainly be something else next time around.