The Danger of Dye

Why do you like some foods, and dislike others? Are you a “texture person” who can’t stand the feel of cottage cheese or yogurt in your mouth, or do you not care at all how a food feels? Do you want your food to be yellow if it is lemon flavored, and orange if it is supposed to taste like oranges? There are a lot of factors that influence food preferences in people, so companies who make food have to create products that not only taste great, but are appealing to all of the senses. Food coloring is a large part of that process.

Food coloring itself is not a new invention, ancient Romans used spices and foods like saffron, carrots, beets, and spinach to color their dishes.  However in 1856, the first synthetic food coloring was created as a by-product of coal processing. The very first foods approved by the USDA to have food coloring added in were cheese and butter. By the year 1900, hundreds of foods, cosmetic products, and and drugs contained synthetic food dyes.

Unfortunately, it was discovered that many of the dyes being used were carcinogenic and contained very dangerous toxins, they were quickly banned by the US government. This set in motion a series of laws passed regarding what types of food coloring could be used, and what couldn’t. Currently, there are several approved dyes for use in the United States. The chart below is copied from the FDA website and shows what are currently approved:

Color Additives Approved for Use in Human Food
Part 74, Subpart A: Color additives subject to batch certification(4)
21 CFR Section Straight Color EEC# Year(2)Approved Uses and Restrictions
§74.101 FD&C Blue No. 1 E133 1969 Foods generally.
1993 Added Mn spec.
§74.102 FD&C Blue No. 2 E132 1987 Foods generally.
§74.203 FD&C Green No. 3 —- 1982 Foods generally.
§74.250 Orange B(3) —- 1966 Casings or surfaces of frankfurters and sausages; NTE(7) 150 ppm (by wt).
§74.302 Citrus Red No. 2 —- 1963 Skins of oranges not intended or used for processing; NTE(7) 2.0 ppm (by wt).
§74.303 FD&C Red No. 3 E127 1969 Foods generally.
§74.340 FD&C Red No. 40(3) E129 1971 Foods generally.
§74.705 FD&C Yellow No. 5 E102 1969 Foods generally.
§74.706 FD&C Yellow No. 6 E110 1986 Foods generally.

There are many more that are approved for use in drugs and cosmetic products, to view all of the approved food additives and dyes, click here.

While the USDA and FDA have approved the above food additives, there are many researchers who are worried about the side effects of ingesting these chemicals. In fact, the European Union has started placing warnings on foods that contain dyes to warn the consumers of health risks! According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), “The three most widely used dyes, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6, are contaminated with known carcinogens … Another dye, Red 3, has been acknowledged for years by the Food and Drug Administration to be a carcinogen, yet is still in the food supply.” Below is a summary of studies on food dyes directly from the CSPI report:

Blue 1 was not found to be toxic in key rat and mouse studies, but an unpublished study suggested the possibility that Blue 1 caused kidney tumors in mice, and a preliminary in vitro study raised questions about possible effects on nerve cells. Blue 1 may not cause cancer, but confirmatory studies should be conducted. The dye can cause hypersensitivity reactions.

Blue 2 cannot be considered safe given the statistically significant incidence of tumors, particularly brain gliomas, in male rats. It should not be used in foods. Citrus Red 2, which is permitted only for coloring the skins of oranges not used for processing, is toxic to rodents at modest levels and caused tumors of the urinary bladder and possibly other organs. The dye poses minimal human risk, because it is only used at minuscule levels and only on orange peels, but it still has no place in the food supply.

Green 3 caused significant increases in bladder and testes tumors in male rats. Though the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers it safe, this little-used dye must remain suspect until further testing is conducted.

Orange B is approved for use only in sausage casings, but has not been used for many years. Limited industry testing did not reveal any problems.
Red 3 was recognized in 1990 by the FDA as a thyroid carcinogen in animals and is banned in cosmetics and externally applied drugs. All uses of Red 3 lakes (combinations of dyes and salts that are insoluble and used in low-moisture foods) are also banned. However, the FDA still permits Red 3 in ingested drugs and foods, with about 200,000 pounds of the dye being used annually. The FDA needs to revoke that approval.

Red 40, the most-widely used dye, may accelerate the appearance of immune-system tumors in mice. The dye causes hypersensitivity (allergy-like) reactions in a small
number of consumers and might trigger hyperactivity in children. Considering the safety questions and its non-essentiality, Red 40 should be excluded from foods unless and until new tests clearly demonstrate its safety.

Yellow 5 was not carcinogenic in rats, but was not adequately tested in mice. It may be contaminated with several cancer-causing chemicals. In addition, Yellow 5 causes sometimes-severe hypersensitivity reactions in a small number of people and might trigger hyperactivity and other behavioral effects in children. Posing some risks, while serving no nutritional or safety purpose, Yellow 5 should not be allowed in foods.Yellow 6 caused adrenal tumors in animals, though that is disputed by industry and the FDA. It may be contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals and occasionally causes severe hypersensitivity reactions. Yellow 6 adds an unnecessary risk to the food supply.

Virtually all the studies tested individual dyes, whereas many foods and diets contain mixtures of dyes (and other ingredients) that might lead to additive or synergistic effects. In addition to considerations of organ damage, cancer, birth defects, and allergic reactions, mixtures of dyes (and Yellow 5 tested alone) cause hyperactivity and other behavioral problems in some children. Because of that concern, the British government advised companies to stop using most food dyes by the end of 2009.

The most worrisome thing of all? So many foods made specifically for children contain dyes! When buying food for your family, look for alternatives that don’t contain any unnecessary additives. Sure, they may not look as neon and bright, but they will without a doubt be healthier for you. Plus, there still ARE crazy and fun colored foods out there that are naturally colored, all you have to do is look for them. Natural food colorings often appear on ingredient labels as beets, turmeric root, annatto, saffron, paprika, elderberry juice, and caramel coloring (made from caramelized sugar).

If you are baking or cooking and want to color something without using spices or other food products, there are natural dyes you can purchase! Neither Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s carry products that use artificial dyes and depending on the location, they may even sell all-natural food colorings. Other all-natural food coloring options are:

By Courtney Perry

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Hand Soap Recommendations

When shopping for hand and body soaps, there are a several ingredients to be on the lookout for, as they have been linked to skin problems (ironically enough) and organ toxicity. Most hand soaps contain at least one of the following harmful ingredients:  Sodium Laurel Sulfate, Propylene Glycol, Parabens, Diethanolamine (DEA), Phthalates, and artificial fragrance. Here is a great article listing other ingredients to be wary of, and why.

While there are hundreds of soaps that contain these icky ingredients, rest assured because there many safe, non-toxic alternatives! Here are some recommendations:

Everyday Shea Hand Soap– Their wonderful foaming soap comes in lavender, vanilla mint, or unscented. Everyday Shea also makes bubble bath, shampoo and conditioner, and body lotion!

everyday sheaevery day shea ingredients

Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps– A versatile, safe, great-smelling product! If you have never tried Dr. Bronner’s you are missing out! You can dilute Dr. Bronner’s and use it in a foamer, too.

Alaffia Shea and Coffee Cafe Au Lait Goat Milk Soap– Yes, the name is really that long. But the soap lives up to it’s title! Ingredients are Saponified Unrefined Shea Butter, Virgin Coconut Oil and Unrefined Palm Kernel Oil, Raw Goat Milk, Yirgacheffe Coffee, Vanilla Extract, Orange Essential Oil. Not sure whether you want to taste it or wash your hands with it, huh? It can be found in Whole Foods stores or here on Amazon.

alaffia

Clean Well– This company makes an assortment of products, but their soaps and hand sanitizers are especially great!

cleanwell

The Honest Company- Founded by Jessica Alba, her products are made safe and all-natural for your favorite little munchkins. The ingredients for her soaps are listed on this page. Inexpensive, too!

Nutribiotic Coconut Oil Soap– I discovered this at a small store in Asheville last year and was excited to find that it can be ordered online! I bring it with me everywhere in a travel contanier and love how smooth it leaves your hands.

coconut soap


Dessert Essence Castile Hand Soapcontains coconut oil, olive oil, and and tea tree oil for a great, nourishing cleanse.

Hugo & Debra Naturals- They have many safe soaps, body washes, and bath soaks that all smell devine

Kiss My Face Foaming Castile Soap– comes in a variety of scents, all wonderful!

kissmyface
Purple PrairieI love this company! You can tell by looking at their handmade soap bars that they are all natural and made with love. Check out wonderful scents like eucalyptus lemon, ginger clove, patchouli vanilla, and more!

Easy homemade hand soap recipe– The “homemade mommy” shares a quick and easy recipe for DIY hand soap on her site.

Easy-Homemade-Foaming-Hand-SoapWhat is your favorite all-natural hand soap?

By Courtney Perry

FAQ: What Is rBGH?

Q: Sometimes I see dairy products labeled “made with milk from cows not treated with rBGH.” What is rBGH, and should I only be buying products that do not contain it?

A: rBGH stands for Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone and is a man-made hormone injected into dairy cows to increase their milk production by 10 to 15 percent. rBGH (sometimes also listed as rBST) has been legal in the U.S. since 1993, but several other countries including Canada, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand have completely outlawed the hormone, not willing to take the risk of ingesting milk from cows pumped full of chemicals and genetically engineered hormones. When the FDA approved rBGH use for dairy cows, there had only been one study done regarding its safety for human consumption. The study was done on 30 rats, and lasted only 90 days. The company who conducted the study was none other than Monsanto, the same group who has been heavily protested for years due to its GMO-filled products.

monsanto

When deciding whether to buy rBGH-free dairy products or not, you should consider the possible side effects of drinking milk from cows treated with this hormone. Two of the biggest questions are:

1. Does consuming products of rBGH-treated cows increase the growth hormone IGF-1 in humans?

“Milk from rBGH-treated cows contains higher levels of IGF-1 (Insulin Growth Factor-1). While humans naturally have IGF-1, elevated levels in humans have been linked to colon and breast cancer. Although no direct connection has been made between elevated IGF-1 levels in milk and elevated IGF-1 levels or cancer in humans, some scientists have expressed concern over the possibility of this relationship.” source 

2. Cows treated with rBGH develop udder infections more often than those that aren’t treated with it, meaning they are put on antibiotics more often. When humans ingest milk of the cows injected with large amounts of both rBGH and antibiotics, are they potentially putting themselves in danger of antibiotic resistance?

“To treat mastitis outbreaks, the dairy industry relies on antibiotics.  Critics of rBGH point to the subsequent increase in antibiotic use (which contributes to the growing problem of antibiotic resistant bacteria) and inadequacies in the federal government’s testing program for antibiotic residues in milk.” source 

In addition to potentially being harmful to humans, I also worry about the animals’ safety when treated with rBGH. This fact sheet lists the side effects of using rBGH on cows, for me it is even more motivation to quit buying products containing milk from rBGH animals altogether.

Like always, I believe it is best to go with your most natural option when buying food. Because rBGH is required to be listed on the label if included in the product, it is not hard to avoid. Also, check out the chart below created by the Center for Food Safety to see a list of products made without the milk from rBGH-treated cows. 

Certified Organic Produced Without rbGH May be Produced with rbGH
Alta Dena Organics
Butterworks Farm
Harmony Hills Dairy
Horizon Organic
Morningland Dairy
Natural by Nature
Organic Valley Dairy
Radiance Dairy
Safeway Organic Brand
Seven Stars Farm
Straus Family Creamery
Stonyfield Organic
Wisconsin Organics
National
Alta Dena
Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream
Brown Cow Farm
Crowley Cheese of Vermont
Franklin County Cheese
Grafton Village Cheese
Great Hill Dairy
Lifetime Dairy
Stonyfield Farms
Yoplait yogurtsWest Coast
Alpenrose Dairy
Berkeley Farms
Clover Stornetta Farms
Joseph Farms Cheese
Sunshine Dairy Foods
Tillamook Cheese
Wilcox Family FarmsMidwest
Chippewa Valley Cheese
Erivan Dairy Yogurt
Promised Land Dairy
Westby Cooperative CreameryEast Coast
Blythedale Farm Cheese
Crescent Creamery
Derle Farms (milk with “no rbST” label only)
Erivan Dairy Yogurt
Farmland Dairies
Oakhurst Dairy
Wilcox Dairy (rbST-free dairy line only)
Colombo (General Mills)
Dannon
Kemps (aside from “Select” brand)
Land O’ Lakes
Lucerne
Parmalat
Sorrento

 

Look for the "not from cows treated with rBGH or rBST " label!

Look for the “not from cows treated with rBGH or rBST ” label!

All Natural Shaving Solutions

Does your shaving cream ingredients list contain words you can’t pronounce, or look anything like the following (taken from the back of a popular shave cream)?

Water , Palmitic Acid , Triethanolamine , Stearic Acid , Isopentane , Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil Glyceride , Sorbitol , Isobutane , PVP , Panthenol , Fragrance , Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E) , Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil , Hydrogenated Olive Oil , PEG 90M , BHT , BHA , Red 40 Lake (CI 16035)

Like many shampoos and soaps loaded with toxic ingredients, shaving creams can be full of them, too. Here are some all natural alternatives to give you silky smooth skin without all of the unnecessary chemicals!

Olive Oil- That’s right, just olive oil! It only takes a tiny bit to cover your entire leg, face, or wherever else you may be shaving.

Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Shea ButterLittlehouseliving.com has posted an easy and scrumptious looking recipe for shave cream! Her site shows a step by step tutorial on how to make the shave cream, pictures included!

shavecream

Dr. Bronner’s Soap– If you keep a bottle or bar of Dr. Bronner’s in your shower, you may not need anything else! It can be used as a soap, shampoo, and shave cream. Anything that takes the place of three different bottles in my tiny shower is a winner, in my opinion.

drbronners

Sweet Almond Oil– Moisturizing, safe, and has a nice, light fragrance. Click here to purchase on Amazon!

almondoil

Apricot Oil– Also from planttherapy.com is apricot oil! It is very high in vitamin A so it does a great job of nourishing your skin and repairing cells.

Rosemary Mint Homemade Shaving Cream– Similar to the coconut oil, shea butter, and olive oil recipe but infused with essential oils. Makes for a wonderfully scented shave cream to make you fall in love with shaving again!

Green Shave All Natural Shaving Cream– Creamy, eucalyptus scented, all natural- what more could you want?

eucalyptus

By Courtney Perry