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How to Avoid Red Food Dye

Highly processed foods have all kinds of things in them that you’ve probably never heard of that were created in a lab somewhere.  Many of these things have no nutritional value and are used merely to make the food more attractive or to keep it “fresh” for longer periods of time. 

One of those things is red food dye.  While there’s been no conclusive evidence that red dye is dangerous for you, there are some people concerned about ingesting it.  Some people claim it may cause hyperactivity in children or allergic reactions such as hives.  If you’re concerned about red dye 40 and 3, two of the most common food additives, here are a list of foods you can find them in.

Baked Good and Candy

These foods are colored red in order to mimic fruits like strawberries, cherries and raspberries.  The thing is that foods don’t have to be red in order to contain this dye.  For example, a combination of red and yellow dye is used to give that golden “fresh out of the oven” look to some baked goods.  Pie filling, cake frosting, cake mix and even some breads can contain red food coloring.  Candies, fruit snacks and even some chocolate candy can have it as well.

Breakfast Cereals and Dairy

Yes, dairy.  Strawberry or raspberry milk can contain red dye, as can some ice creams and yogurts.  Red dye is a very common ingredient in breakfast cereals as well.  Normally, it’s found in sugary cereals that appeal to children to mimic fruit.  You can also find it in peanut butter flavored cereals because it is used with yellow to give it that golden peanut buttery color.

Drinks and Snacks

It’s very common to find red dye in drinks, especially in flavored drink mixes or various flavors of soda.  It’s mostly found in berry flavored sodas but can be in orange sodas too.  Some drinks that are marketed as healthy, like sports drinks and nutritional shakes, also contain red dye.  You can also find it in snack foods.  Everything from potato chips to cookies to breakfast bars to gelatin can have red dye.

How to Avoid Food Coloring

Food labels are your friends.  The USDA requires that manufacturers list additives like food dyes on the label, so scan the label before you buy it if you suspect it may have food dye.  Remember, even things you may think are free of dyes like oatmeal and fiber bars can contain it.


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