You should avoid these food dyes for your health’s sake
Today, I want to emphasize the importance of watching out for E numbers and additives in food, thus, I created a list. Try your best to always avoid these food dyes, as many of them can become a hazard to your health.
Although there are more than enough natural, safe and even healthy dyes, food producers always turn to the dubious alternatives.
Basically, dyes in food only serve the optics. With many products, one wonders what dyes he has to look for in the first place, especially if their safety for the consumer cannot be guaranteed.
This applies above all to synthetic dyes or those reproduced in the laboratory (azo dyes). These synthetic additives are encrypted with so-called E numbers. We’ll show you what’s behind the numbers.
E 102 – tartrazine
Tartrazine is a synthetic azo dye that gives a yellow to orange color. Manufacturers use it, for example, in liqueurs, lemonades, effervescent powder, snacks, puddings, processed cheese and medicines.
Tartrazine raises concerns because it can cause allergies and is, therefore, generally problematic for allergy sufferers.
It is also suspected to have an impact on the psyche. Thus, companies must label food containing tartrazine with “Can impair activity and attention in children” in the EU.
By the way, Norway already banned the dye. This was also the case in Germany and Austria until they lifted the ban in the course of alignment with the EU. That alone should motivate everyone enough to stay away from it.
E 104 – quinoline yellow
If you truly want to avoid these food dyes, you cannot forget the quinoline yellow. It is also synthetically produced, is only permitted in small quantities and for certain foods.
These include drinks, confectionery, pudding, lozenges and effervescent tablets or chewing gum. Products that use quinoline yellow also have to warn consumers: “Can impair activity and attention in children”.
Here, the US drug administration prohibits the use of quinoline yellow. I just thought it worth mentioning for those, however, who like to travel abroad and/or enjoy imported foods.
E 110 – sunset yellow or yellow orange-S
They often use the artificial azo dye E 110 in citrus yogurt or cheese, but also in fruit gums, jelly and medication.
The dye is considered an allergen and can become problematic in people with asthma. It also results in the warning label “May affect activity and attention in children”.
Due to stressful data, the FDA gradually reduced the daily allowance of E 110 since 2013. In animal experiments, sunset yellow caused kidney tumors at high doses.
E 120 – cochineal or carminic (acid)
Cochineal (carminic acid) is the only approved dye that is made from animals. The dye gets derived from the dried, fertilized females of the scarlet scale insects.
One finds the substance, for instance, in jams, sausages and sweets. Cochineal can cause a rash and allergy-like symptoms in sensitive people.
E 122 – Azorubine
Like all azo dyes, they also manufacture azorubine artificially. Food with azorubine must carry the warning label “May affect activity and attention in children”.
In sensitive people, the substance can lead to pseudo-allergies, which can manifest in skin rashes, respiratory problems and visual disturbances.
E 123 – Amaranth
Don’t let the name fool you, tough! The azo dye amaranth has nothing to do with the pseudo-cereal of the same name.
Instead, it can have the same effects as azorubine (E 122). And as if that weren’t enough: In animal experiments, amaranth caused kidney deposits. Therefore, it, too, is banned here with us in the USA because it is suspected of being carcinogenic.
Of course, there are many other dyes that are approved in the EU as well as in America. To give you a quick overview, I have compiled all the dyes, sorted by their numbering, in the table below.
Name of the dye Type Harmful Harmless
E 100 – Curcumin Natural or Synthetic X
E 101 – Riboflavin Natural or Synthetic X
E 102 – Tartrazine Synthetic azo dye X
E 104 – Quinoline Yellow Synthetic X
E- 110 – Sunset Yellow Synthetic azo dye X
E 120 – Carminic acid Natural or from lice X
E 122 – Carmoisine Synthetic azo dye X
E 123 – Amaranth Synthetic azo dye X
E 124 a – Ponceau Synthetic azo dye X
E 127 – Erythrosine Synthetic xanthene dye X
E 128 – Red 2G Synthetic azo dye X
E 129 – Allura red AG Synthetic azo dye X
E 131 – Patent blue V Synthetic X
E 132 – Indigo Synthetic X
E 133 – Brilliant blue Synthetic X
E 140 – Chlorophyll Natural/plant-based X
E 141 – Copper Complexes Synthetic X
E 142 – Green S Synthetic X
E 150 – Caramel Natural or synthetic X
E 151 – Brilliant black Synthetic azo dye X
E 153 – Plant carbon Wood or peat X
E 154 – Brown FK Synthetic azo dye X
E 155 – Brown HT Synthetic azo dye X
E 160 – Carotene Natural or synthetic X
E 161 – Lutein Natural from nettles X
E 162 – Betanin Natural from beets X
E 163 – Anthocyane Natural from red grapes X
E 170 – Calcium Carbonate Natural X
E 171 – Titanium dioxide Natural X
E 172 – Iron oxide Synthetic X
E 173 – Aluminium Natural X
E 174 – Silver Natural X
E 175 – Gold Natural X
E 180 – Lithol ruby Synthetic azo dye X
I hope the list from above really helps you to avoid these food dyes as much as possible. They may make the food look more appetizing, but most of them are too harmful to our health and, thus, not worth consuming.
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