Artificial Food Dyes

Health Risks

  • In 2012 the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health published a review in which the authors recommend that the current food dyes be removed from the food supply due to evidence of carcinogenicity, genotoxicity and hypersensitivity.
  • In 2007 the Brazilian Journal of Biology published a study which tested the effects of tartrazine – also known as FD&C Yellow No 5 – on 45 rats for a period of 10 months. The researchers found a significant increase in the number of white blood cells in these rats, signifying a possible immune response to tartrazine.
  • In 2015 Anticancer Research published an in vitro study which determined tartrazine to have genotoxic (DNA damaging) effects. Based on the finding the researchers concluded that tartrazine may be harmful to health.

Hyperactivity and ADHD

  • In 2004 Archives of Disease in Childhood published a double-blind, placebo-controlled study which found that 3-year-old children who consumed artificial food coloring and benzoate preservatives had significantly greater incidences of hyperactivity and adverse behavior as reported by parents when compared to a control group.
  • In 2007 Lancet published a double-blind, placebo-controlled study in which 153 3-year-old and 144 8/9-year-old children were given sodium benzoate and artificial colors or a placebo. The results showed increased hyperactivity children in given the benzoate and artificial colors.
  • In 2012 the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry published a meta-analysis based on 24 studies which found that an estimated 8 percent of children with ADHD may have symptoms related to synthetic food colors.

Irritability, Restlessness and Sleeplessness

  • In 1994 The Journal of Pediatrics published a 21-day double-blind study which tested the effects of various doses tartrazine on children when compared to a placebo. Behavioral changes, restlessness, irritability and sleep disturbance were observed when taking tartrazine in a dose-dependent manner – (the severity of symptoms increased with the amount of c ingested).

Learning and Memory

  • In 2011 the Journal of Food Science published a study to evaluate the effects of tartrazine on learning and memory in an animal model. Rats were administered various doses of tartrazine for a 30 day period and were evaluated through several memory tests. The rats performed more poorly on all tests after treatment with tartrazine and showed decreased antioxidant levels in the brain.


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