Food coloring is everywhere, creeping into your food without you noticing. It makes food look pretty and exciting, but is it actually hurting you? Is food coloring safe?  

Food coloring was created to make food fun. We’ve all seen the rainbow cupcakes, every possible flavor of Skittles, bright-colored beverages, and now even rainbow bagels. When we see those colors out there, they instantly catch our attention and we're drawn to choose those certain foods, even if it’s just for the 'gram.

prawn, shrimp, shellfish, chicken, meat, fish, seafood
Elizabeth Layman

However, what we neglect to acknowledge is the dangers that come along with consuming food coloring. Many of them have been banned from certain countries, especially in Europe. In the US, the consumption of food dyes has increased five times since 1955. They have been linked to tumors, chromosomal damage, and allergic reactions.

When I was a little girl, I came back from school one day and self-diagnosed myself by telling my mom that every time I had Froot Loops for breakfast, my entire body itched. My childhood consisted of several doctor appointments and various sad birthday parties where I couldn’t have candy. Since then, I have suffered from allergic reactions to food coloring. 19 years later, I've become used to living with my intolerance to food coloring; it’s part of who I am now. 

gelatin, sweet, jelly beans, candy
Christin Urso

Whether you’re allergic to food coloring like me or not, the bottom line is that food coloring is everywhere and we have to watch out for it. The key is to avoid food coloring as much as you can. Studies have shown time and time again the dangers of food coloring, from brain tumors to aggression. That doesn’t mean that eating one Ring Pop will automatically give you all of the bad effects of consuming food coloring. But for real, who stops at one Ring Pop? 

Tips and Tricks

dessert, candy, cookie, pastry, chocolate, sprinkles, cream, cake, sweet
Max Bartick

Being aware of your artificial coloring intake isn’t as hard as it sounds. Here are a few easy tips to follow that helped me survive my entire life dodging food coloring:

1. Reading food labels thoroughly. This accounts for anything, not just food coloring.

2. Try using natural food coloring. For example, use real strawberries instead of Red 40 for making strawberry syrup.

3. Eat the rainbow—the natural one, that is, like colorful fruits and veggies.

4. Avoid eating processed foods (this is a hard one). Pay special attention to Pop-Tarts, mac and cheese, chips, sodas, etc.

5. Choose organic foods, with no artificial coloring, flavor, or preservatives. 

sprinkles, pastry, cookie, goody, sweet, cake, cream, chocolate, candy
Bethany Garcia

Studies on the dangers of food coloring are still being conducted to this day, and information on the topic is constantly changing. The FDA is constantly reviewing the question, "is food coloring safe?" However, it is our job to become knowledgeable on the pros and cons of consuming food dyes on the daily. 

Food coloring is FDA approved, making it "safe" to eat, but watch out because you might be eating highly processed and chemically engineered foods