Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Is Red Dye 40 Bad For You?

Allura Red AC is a red food coloring dye that goes by several names including: Allura Red, Food Red 17, C.I. 16035, FD&C Red 40. A lot of research has been done on Red 40 and other food coloring dyes. The findings seem somewhat shocking. Children who have been diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) or Tourette's and Tic disorders generally have significant improvements in their behavior and ability to concentrate when artificial additives such as Red 40 are removed from their diet. Red 40 may also trigger migraine headaches. After researching this dye and removing it from our home, we have noticed a significant improvement in one of our own children. I was skeptical at first, like many people, but now I am just glad to be aware. I also find it ironic that we have taken Red 40 out of most hummingbird foods, but not our children's foods. 

A 2007 study from Southampton University questioned the safety of Azo food dyes in children. Professor Stevenson, a co-author said: "This has been a major study investigating an important area of research. The results suggest that consumption of certain mixtures of artificial food colours and sodium benzoate preservative are associated with increases in hyperactive behavior in children. However, parents should not think that simply taking these additives out of food will prevent hyperactive disorders. We know that many other influences are at work but this at least is one a child can avoid."
The following additives were tested in the research:
  • Sunset yellow (E110) (FD&C Yellow #6) - Coloring found in soft drinks
  • Carmoisine (E122) - Red coloring in gelatin foods
  • Tartrazine (E102) (FD&C Yellow #5) - Yellow coloring
  • Ponceau 4R (E124) - Red coloring
  • Sodium benzoate (E211) - Preservative
  • Quinoline yellow (E104) - Food coloring
  • Allura red AC (E129) (FD&C Red #40) - Orange / red food dye
The study found that increased levels of hyperactivity and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and lower IQs were observed in children. In Europe, Red 40 is not recommended for consumption by children. It is banned in Denmark, Belgium, France, Switzerland, and Sweden. 

Dr. Alison Schonwald, MD, FAAP, an expert in developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Children's Hospital in Boston writes the following review for the 2008 American Acadamy of Pediatrics Grand Rounds:
  Despite increasing data supporting the efficacy of stimulants in preschoolers with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), parents and providers understandably seek safe and effective interventions that require no prescription. A recent metaanalysis of 15 trials concludes that there is “accumulating evidence that neurobehavioral toxicity may characterize a variety of widely distributed chemicals.” Some children may be more sensitive to the effects of these chemicals, and the authors suggest there is a need to better identify responders. In real life, practitioners faced with hyperactive preschoolers have a reasonable option to offer parents. For the child without a medical, emotional, or environmental etiology of ADHD behaviors, a trial of a preservative-free, food coloring–free diet is a reasonable intervention.

Dr. Schonwald also writes:

  Although quite complicated, this was a carefully conducted study [the Southhampton study] in which the investigators went to great lengths to eliminate bias and to rigorously measure outcomes. The results are hard to follow and somewhat inconsistent. For many of the assessments there were small but statistically significant differences of measured behaviors in children who consumed the food additives compared with those who did not. In each case increased hyperactive behaviors were associated with consuming the additives. For those comparisons in which no statistically significant differences were found, there was a trend for more hyperactive behaviors associated with the food additive drink in virtually every assessment. Thus, the overall findings of the study are clear and require that even we skeptics, who have long doubted parental claims of the effects of various foods on the behavior of their children, admit we might have been wrong.

Dr. Schonwald's full report may be found at :


  1. not banned in USA because the capitalist put money before human well being or lives for that matter.

  2. i didnt know thanks

  3. I didn't know this either, but I do now. I have been taking PreserVision eye vitamins for macular degeneration. It has red#40 and blue#1. It gave me headaches and blurry vision and dizziness. I won't be taking it anymore! It obviously affect older folks too! Thank you for this info.