Just Say No to Blue, Green & Yellow: Avoid artificial food dyes

Just Say No to Blue, Green & Yellow: Avoid artificial food dyes

January 27, 2023

Blue yogurt. Fruit snacks with multi-colored tongue tattoos. Even salmon farmers use a “SalmoFan” color chart, a tool that looks like a paint sampler from a hardware store, to choose what color they’d like their fish to be. Clearly, color is important. But are these hues healthy?

Say no to blue, green, red  and yellow. The numbered colors, called synthetic or artificial colors, are made from coal tar or petroleum and have been linked to allergies, asthma, hyperactivity in kids, and even cancer. U.K. officials recently banned artificial food dyes.

What you can do:

  1. Read labels. Read the ingredients list of the products you buy and avoid FD&C blues #1 and 2; green #3; red #3; and yellows #5 and #6. Use IATP’s Brain Food Selector to find out information about the artificial food dyes in your child’s favorite foods. See their Smart Guide to Food Dyes for more information on health concerns for children from artificial food dyes.
  2. Find alternatives. Looking for safer options for coloring frostings and play dough? Health food stores sell colors made from food – turmeric, blueberry, beets, etc. You can also try making your own. (You may need to experiment when using these in foods as some of their natural flavor may be detectable.)
  3. Research a safer Rx. If you need medication and are not sure if it contains colors, you can check online, here. If your medication is made with colors, contact a compounding pharmacy to see if they can do it without all the colors. A list of compounding pharmacies can be found here.