You’re hungry. You reach for a snack. You take a bite. Within your snack is a smidgen of petroleum.
Petroleum in Food Dyes
Let me tell you that this isn’t an impossible scenario.
Why? Because a few of our favorite snacks contain petroleum products. You see, some synthetic food dyes in our food are made from petroleum; see https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/food-dyes.
Synthetic Food Dyes
I discovered another fact in the same Healthline article above. It is that synthetic ‘food dyes are chemical substances that were developed to enhance the appearance of food by giving it artificial color’.
These synthetic color additives are actually approved for use in food in the United States. See https://www.fda.gov/industry/color-additive-inventories/summary-color-additives-use-united-states-foods-drugs-cosmetics-and-medical-devices.
Food Dye as Additives
I referred to artificial dyes when I first wrote about ultra-processed food and its risks.
Artificial dyes fell into the category of additives in ultra-processed food. Additives are added to enhance some aspect of a food item we want to consume. See Healthful Food: Why Ultra-Processed Food is Not It.
Opinion on Food Dyes
This is my opinion on the subject of food dyes.
Of all the categories of additives in ultra-processed food, I think that synthetic food dyes are the least essential for human consumption. The color of our food makes it more appetizing to us, yes.
Still, shouldn’t we resist the urge? The urge to consume something that can potentially poison us in the long run? To consume something that food manufacturers put in our food just because it is cheap. And despite it being bad for us.
The fact that we color our food to trigger some primitive instinct to make our food more appetizing is sad. Synthetic food dye is not, after all, a ‘necessary or meaningful food ingredient’ and has ‘no nutritional value’; https://slate.com/technology/2016/07/food-coloring-is-bad-for-us-but-the-fda-wont-admit-that.html.
I am very aware that having a tight budget doesn’t allow everyone to have a clean, toxic-free diet. But still, we can afford to give up fake food dyes in our food.
Harm in Synthetic Food Dyes
Here’s more evidence of the potential harmfulness of synthetic food dyes and the cost to our health and well-being:
- Hyperactivity in children (https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/food-dyes; https://cspinet.org/news/synthetic-food-dyes-affect-children’s-behavior-state-california-says-20210416);
- Colorectal cancer (https://theconversation.com/colorful-sweets-may-look-tasty-but-some-researchers-question-whether-synthetic-dyes-may-pose-health-risks-to-your-colon-and-rectum-172211);
- Tumors (https://cspinet.org/sites/default/files/attachment/food-dyes-rainbow-of-risks.pdf);
- Other health conditions, which might ultimately be caused by synthetic food dyes.
Also it is significant that ‘guidelines for the FDA’s Acceptable Daily Intake levels (ADIs) are based on 35-to 70-year old studies’. And ‘if newer research were used to revise those levels, they would be much lower,’. See https://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/why-are-some-food-additives-that-are-banned-in-europe-still-used-in-the-us/.
Ultimately, this is my belief. We, as individuals, have a choice as to what and how much of certain foods we consume.
Certain countries in Europe are able to get food manufacturers to substitute synthetic dyes with natural ingredients in ultra-processed food. This is very telling. See https://slate.com/technology/2016/07/food-coloring-is-bad-for-us-but-the-fda-wont-admit-that.html.
These substitutions are for the very same food products that are sold in the United States.
All I am suggesting, then, is this.
If we need to remove one category of additives to our diets, let it be synthetic dyes and colorings. And just from our ultra-processed foods. This small sacrifice alone might be worth our collective health in the long run.
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