More and more families are opting for snacks and foods that do not contain artificial dyes, and for good reason. Synthetic colorings often contain ingredients that we may not find desirable in our food. Would you knowingly choose to consume bugs in your cranberry juice or petroleum in your breakfast cereal? Probably not. Sadly, these are some of the components that make our food look bright and appealing.
While the FDA asserts that approved synthetic color additives are safe, certain studies suggest that they may carry health risks. For instance, a recent report from the State of California highlighted that synthetic food dyes can potentially cause or worsen adverse effects on neurobehavioral outcomes in children. On the other hand, the European Union takes a different approach and requires warning labels on certain dyes, stating that they “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”
Whether you are concerned about the impact of synthetic coloring on your children or simply want to make healthier choices, opting for snacks without artificial dyes is an excellent starting point.
Finding Snacks without Artificial Dyes
Once you start paying attention, you will notice that synthetic color additives are widespread in many products. They can be found in gelatin, soda, pastries, and even frozen vegetables. Artificial dyes are used to enhance the color and visual appeal of the food we consume. Just think about how dull and unappetizing hot dogs would look without those vibrant hues!
The good news is that it is not difficult to find dye-free snacks that kids genuinely enjoy once you know where and how to look.
Kid-Friendly Dye-Free Snack Favorites Include:
- Annie’s Fruit Snacks
- HEB’s Macaroni & Cheese
- Black Forest Fruit Snacks
- Honey Nut Cheerios
- Capri Suns Roarin’ Waters
Some retailers simplify the search for dye-free snacks by offering a dedicated category. You can explore dye-free options at stores like Target or browse through the selection available on Amazon.
Tips for Identifying Dye-Free Snacks
If you want to reduce or eliminate synthetic dyes from your family’s diet, here are some guidelines to follow:
Stick to Natural, Unprocessed Foods When Possible
The best way to ensure a healthy diet is to focus on fresh fruits and vegetables and avoid processed foods. Processed foods often contain synthetic dyes and preservatives, which are best avoided.
Choose Snacks with the USDA Certified Organic Label
Even if you cannot completely eliminate processed foods, you can still prioritize dye-free options. Look for the green and white USDA certified organic label on packaging. This certification guarantees that the product is free from synthetic dyes. Keep in mind that items labeled “made with organic ingredients” may still contain artificial coloring.
Read the Ingredients
Deciphering synthetic dye names can feel like a chemistry lesson in itself. For example, Red 40 can also be listed as Red 40 Lake, FD&C Red No. 40, FD&C Red No. 40 Aluminum Lake, Allura Red AC, CI Food Red 17, INS No. 129, or E129. Instead of trying to memorize the entire list, be cautious of ingredients that are identified by a color and a number, such as Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Red 40, Red 3, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, and Citrus Red 2.
It is important to note that synthetic dyes must be listed by their specific names in the ingredients list, whereas natural sources of color used as dyes may not be explicitly mentioned. This means that if you come across “artificial color,” “artificial color added,” or “color added” on food packaging, it actually indicates the use of natural sources of color.
To learn more about the safety risks associated with various food additives, you can explore the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s comprehensive resource known as “chemical cuisine ratings.”
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