Red 40 – You Are What You Eat
Have you ever drank fruit punch and asked yourself what exactly makes this juice red? Or how about when you look at the back of most fruit juices or sweets and snacks and see Allura Red 40, Sunset Yellow or Blue Lake and wonder what these additives are and why are they in almost everything. In this article I will answer some of the questions you may have regarding these artificial colors, Red 40 in particular. Red 40 is widely used in the foods and drugs that we consume; often we don’t give much thought to the fact that much of what we consume is artificially colored.
Red 40 was originally manufactured from coal tar, but is now mostly made from petroleum. It was originally introduced in the United States as a replacement for the use of amaranth as a food coloring. So what’s the big deal besides the fact we are consuming petroleum? Ask yourself the right question and you will find the right answer. There is an ever increasing diagnosis of ADD/ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) among our population. Could it be that the children are just so full of energy that they can’t focus or concentrate? Or maybe they are just full of Red 40 and other artificial colors that they are consuming on a daily basis.
The consumption of certain mixtures of artificial colors and sodium benzoate preservatives are associated with increases in hyperactive behavior in children. There was a study conducted that found increased levels of hyperactivity and attention deficit included with lower IQ’s. This was all observed in children consuming Red 40 and other artificial chemicals. 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.
Here are some of the everyday products we use that contain Red 40. It can be found in many baked goods, from pies and cakes to cookies and even breads. Many pre-made vanilla frostings use a combination of Red40 and Yellow 5 to create a more “golden” look. Some examples are Pillsbury rolls, frostings, cake mixes, Duncan Hines cake mixes and frostings. It should be no surprise at all that Red40 appears in numerous candies. Most candy is highly processed and bears little resemblance to anything found in nature. You’re also likely to find the colorant in candies with red shells; dark browns chocolate or coffee flavors, and cinnamon candies. Examples of these are Brach’s fruit snacks, jolly ranchers, twizzlers; Altoids breathe mints, Starbursts, M & M’s, Skittles, and Lifesavers.
In a never ending effort to appeal to children, breakfast food companies have been adding more sugar and more artificial colors to the broad spectrum of fruit flavored foods. Some examples are Lucky Charms, Reese’s Peanut Butter Puffs, Trix, Froot Loops, Fruity Pebbles, Cap’n Crunchberries. There are still a good number of fruit and dairy combinations where there’s strawberry, raspberry or cherry flavoring there’s likely to be Red40. Examples are Trix Yogurt Snack Packs, Good Humor Ice Cream Bar, Light Fat Free yogurt, just to name a few.
Quite a few processed beverages are colored with Red40 – from “fruit” drinks to teas and sport drinks. Bright red is an eye catching color and that’s a very important feature in the beverage industry. Examples of these beverages to quench your thirst are V8 Splash, Hi-C, Minute Maid, Schweppes, Gatorade, Hawaiian Punch, Crystal Light, Kool-Aid mix, Mountain Dew, Pepsi varieties. Americans eat a lot of tomato based sauces and we associate a dark red color with many of our foods. In some cases, the tomato color has been augmented with Red40 to look even better. Red40 may also be found in beef flavored meals and mixes as a browning agent. Other examples or Red 40 products are Del Monte Fruit Salad, Betty Crocker Hamburger Helper, Kraft BBQ Sauce, Doritos, Betty Crocker Fruit Gushers, Betty Crocker Fruit by the Foot, Pillsbury Toaster Strudel, Hershey’s Syrup, Hostess Twinkies…etc.
Red 40 has been banned for use in children’s products in some countries, yet it has been allowed as “safe” for use here in America. In Europe, Red 40 in not recommended for consumption by children. It is banned in Denmark, Belgium, France and Switzerland. In the United States, Red 40 is approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for use in cosmetics, drugs and food. If something is artificially colored red, pink, purple, or orange, chances are it contains Red 40. They use it to make chocolate look “richer” and baked goods look more “golden”. They even inject Red Delicious Apples with Red 40 so the apple appears to be redder. Ask yourself; would you buy the bright red apple or the apple that is not as bright? In most cases you would buy the bright red apple over the other.
So what can we do? Besides popping on your chef’s hat and making these products yourself and ridding your home of all these goods listed, we can ban together and push the FDA to cease the use of these artificial chemicals in the United States. Sure our children will be devastated and businesses will be shut down but honestly, again big businesses do not care about you or your children they only care about the bottom line (cash). In color psychology, red means energy, action, passion, excitement and strength. Using red for your packaging colors draws attention to your product, stimulates the senses and excites the potential purchaser. You have the power to make the choice if you want to feed your children these chemicals and in some cases feed yourself or not.
As the saying goes, “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”