Artificial Food Dyes, Is the U.S. Behind the Curve?

Like so many globally, I’m always looking to join the latest trend in healthy eating and living. So, naturally, when I see organic, all natural, no preservatives, whole-grain, trans-fat free or no artificial flavoring on whatever bright, shiny packaging has sucked me in, I immediately feel better about my impending choice.  We are inadvertently aware of these commonly used health phrases and applaud companies for their efforts in keeping us all healthier; but do we really hold American-based food companies accountable for what they have convinced us they stand for, or are we fooling ourselves into thinking, what we see is what we get? I often find myself looking for two things in terms of dinner – cheap and easy! Just last week at my neighborhood grocery store, I was tempted to reach for the shiny blue box that brought back fond childhood memories.  Kraft Macaroni & Cheese was a staple for my sisters and me, when mom and dad were on date night. Frankly, it was one of the only meals a kid could make in 10 minutes for less than $2.  Luckily, I had the time to look for a better choice, but that didn’t stop me from looking a little closer at the ingredients involved in my fave childhood snack; specifically artificial food dyes, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 – known carcinogens found in good ol’ Easy Mac. Unfortunately, the U.S. FDA does not require any ‘health phrases’ or better yet ‘health warnings’ to help while we’re perusing the macaroni and cheese aisle. In Europe, foods that contain Yellow 5 are required to carry a warning label, and the chemical has been banned outright in some countries, including Austria and Norway. In 2008, the Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned the FDA to ban eight different food dyes found in virtually everything children like to eat. In addition, U.S.-based food companies like Kraft, have already formulated safer forms of these foods. Even more notable –these artificial food dyes are not actually part of the flavor profile. I restrained myself and looked a little harder for a healthier choice of pasta – perhaps whole wheat penne with an organic cheese blend may be the choice this week! If you’re sourcing or selling chemicals and looking for more information on certification, specifically from the FDA check out our FDA Base.  It’s the comprehensive compliment to the DWCP. Beware of your favorite foods this week. Read the labels!