Ingredient Profile #2: Red 40

I hope that everyone enjoyed last week’s double post!  I was experimenting with the scheduling feature (it worked!)  and didn’t want to interfere with my usual Tuesday delivery.  

Ever wonder what Doritos, doughnuts with pink frosting, the outer shells of M&M’s and fruit roll-ups have in common?  They all contain Red 40, which is just one of the multiple synthetic dyes that lurk in our food.  In fact, giant food manufacturers and industrial corporations pour approximately 15 million pounds of these artificial chemicals into their products each year.  But why do they do it exactly?  Strictly as a means to make their products more enticing to Americans, thereby increasing their sales revenue.  There is absolutely no added nutritional value to Red 40, (or Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Red 3, Yellow 5 or Yellow 6 for that matter).  In fact, it has been scientifically proven that Red 40 is carcinogenic.  This declaration comes from the findings of the following contaminants in Red 40: aniline, benzidine, and p-cresidine.

Scrupulous research also indicates that the effects of Red 40 and other synthetic dyes is even more detrimental to children.  Due to the fact that their organs and organ systems aren’t fully grown, smaller amounts of these artificial chemicals lead to larger and more concerning health conflicts.  For example, Red 40 has been proven to cause aggressiveness, irritability, and learning impairments.  Furthermore, one of the most concerning side effects of the consumption of Red 40 is how it increases hyperactivity.  The more frequently a child consumes it, the more probable it is that they’ll suffer from restlessness and attention problems.  Interestingly, in a 2007 study conducted in Britain, children fed beverages with an array of these artificial chemicals portrayed wild and overactive behavior within an hour.  Thus, a few years back, the British government made a request that companies terminate the usage of such synthetic dyes in all of their products.  On July 20, 2010, the European Union demanded warning labels on dyed foods.  This is a portion of the warning that appears on the labels in Europe today: “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”

You can purchase a McDonald’s Strawberry Sundae in both the continents of Europe and North America.  However, it fascinates me that in Massachusetts, the sundae you receive is colored with Red 40, while the sundae you receive in Britain is colored with strawberries.  Real strawberries…imagine that!  It’s baffling and sad that the standards and quality of ingredients used in the USA are often less than the standards and quality of ingredients used elsewhere.  This week, try to eliminate Red 40 and other synthetic dyes from your diet and let me know if you notice a difference in how you feel.  Also, remember that eating is sort of like voting.  If you want to change our food system or you’re tired of the “food” that isn’t really food, only purchase products that you believe are or should be the American standard.  It really does take one person at a time to make a difference!

Until Next Week…Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie 🙂


Bruso, Jessica. Livestrong. Demand Media Incorporated. 2012. Web. 31 Dec. 2012.

—. Child-Behavior-Guide. Child-Behavior-Guide. 2012. Web. 31 Dec. 2012.

—. CSPINET. Center for Science in the Public Interest. 2012. Web. 31 Dec. 2012.

Fulton, April. NPR. NPR. 2012. Web. 31 Dec. 2012.

Shapley, David. TheDailyGreen. Hearst Communications Incorporated. 2012. Web. 31 Dec. 2012.

Stokes, Milton. EatingWell. Meredith Corporation. 2012. Web. 31 Dec. 2012.


3 thoughts on “Ingredient Profile #2: Red 40

  1. Rachel

    Hmm, very interesting. I had no idea the dyes caused such things, I just thought they were an unnecessary addition to make artificial food more eye-catching. Thanks for the info Katie!

  2. Ellie Morrison

    Katie, it’s astounding what we don’t know, thank heaven we have you to educate us. Keep up the awesome work, I’m always impatient to receive the next blog!


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