A California bill could ban food coloring in schools. Are food colors harmful?

The Food and Drug Administration lists Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 food colors as safe for consumption and use in the United States.

However, the FDA notes that some research suggests that some people may be sensitive to food dyes. However, most individuals do not experience any adverse effects when consuming these food colors.

But a new bill, introduced earlier this week, could ban food coloring in California schools. Here’s what you need to know about bill and food coloring.

How much does food coloring cost in California?

As a continuation of the California Food Safety Act, or FSA, Assembly Bill 2316 was introduced Tuesday. The bill aims to ban artificial food colors linked to hyperactivity and behavioral problems in public school breakfasts and lunches, according to Food Safety Magazine.

Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6 and titanium dioxide would be banned if the bill takes effect.

In 2023, when the FSA was signed into law, the food chemicals potassium bromate, propyl paraben, BVO and Red 3 were banned from being sold, delivered or manufactured in the state, according to the EWG.

Why is the food coloring bill aimed at students and children?

Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel, who sponsored the bill, said in a press release: “California has a responsibility to protect our students from chemicals that harm children and can interfere with their ability learning. »

According to NPR, supporters of the new legislation cite a potential association between artificial colors and child development problems to justify banning these additives in schools. However, food industry critics say there isn’t enough scientific evidence to support this correlation.

What do health experts say about food coloring?

According to the Washington Post, “There is no evidence that ingesting Red No. 3 or any other artificial food coloring causes cancer in humans.” However, scientists tend to use the results of animal studies to understand the possible effects on humans. »

Michael Hansen, senior advocacy scientist at Consumer Reports, told Everyday Health: “The law states that if a food additive or coloring has been shown to cause cancer in animals or humans, then it does not is not permitted in the food supply. »

Studies show that cancer can occur in animals after consuming food dyes. The FDA has not regulated any of them in our foods, Hansen told Everyday Health.

In a study published and conducted by the Center for Science and the Public Interest, researchers tested food colors individually (including Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6). .

Noting that every dye tested except Orange B causes tumors in the kidneys, bladder, parts of the brain and other areas in animals, the study finds that food dyes are dangerous.

“Furthermore, virtually all studies tested individual dyes, whereas many foods and diets contain mixtures of dyes (and other ingredients) that could lead to additive or synergistic effects,” the study states.

Blue 1

Also known as Brilliant Blue, Blue 1 was originally made from coal tar. Now, it’s usually derived from an oil base, according to Scientific American.

Possible problems with Blue 1

According to a research review published in the journal Advances in Nutrition, Blue 1 does not cause DNA damage or mutations in the body. However, there are many reports of negative effects for some people, including:

What foods contain Blue 1?

According to Functional Nutrition Answers, foods containing Blue 1 include:

Blue 2

Blue 2 is created by heating indigo with sulfuric acid. The solution is then purified to obtain the dye. However, the indigo used today is often synthetic and not produced from natural plants, according to Lancaster Online.

Possible problems with Blue 2

In group animal studies, Blue 2 did not affect reproduction or cause birth defects. However, male rats that received a lot of Blue 2 had an increase in brain cancer and abnormal cell development, according to Live Strong.

What foods contain Blue 2?

According to Functional Nutrition Answers, foods that contain Blue 2 include:

  • Bakery products.

  • Candy.

  • Cereal.

  • Drinks.

  • Ice.

Green 3

Green 3, also known as triphenylmethane color, is typically used for green or turquoise colors, according to Cosmetics Info.

Possible problems with Green 3

According to a study published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, exposure to Green 3 in mice and rats caused bladder tumors.

By reviewing several research reviews or published studies, EWG found Green 3 to be of little concern. However, there were some data on adverse neurobehavioral outcomes in children and cancer.

What foods contain Green 3?

According to Functional Nutrition Answers, foods that contain Green 3 include:

  • Candy.

  • Canned vegetables.

  • Cereal.

  • Drinks.

  • Jelly.

  • Dressings.

Red 40

Red 40 is a bright red dye made from the chemical compound Allura red AC, according to Web MD.

Possible problems with Red 40

According to Healthline, Red 40 is linked to aggression and mental disorders like attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

What foods contain Red 40?

According to a previous article published in Deseret News, common foods containing Red 40 include:

  • A soda.

  • Energy drinks.

  • Sports drinks.

  • Breakfast cereals.

  • Yogurt.

  • Flavored milk.

  • Ice.

  • Jelly.

  • Pudding.

  • Protein powders.

  • Powdered drink mix.

  • Candy.

  • Gummies or fruit snacks.

  • Ice-creams.

  • Fleas.

  • Pastries.

Yellow 5

According to WebMD, Yellow 5, also known as tartrazine, creates a bright “lemon yellow” color in foods and products.

Possible problems with Yellow 5

According to Verywell Health, likely reactions due to Yellow 5 include:

  • Urticaria.

  • Angioedema: swelling of the throat, neck, lips and tongue.

  • Asthma.

  • Allergy-related skin rashes.

  • Food intolerances.

What foods contain Yellow 5?

According to Functional Nutrition Answers, Yellow 5 can be present in:

Yellow 6

Yellow 6 is an artificial coloring derived from petroleum, according to the EWG.

Possible problems with Yellow 6

According to Switch Nutrition, Yellow 6 could cause:

  • Nasal congestion.

  • Urticaria.

  • Allergies.

  • Renal tumors.

  • DNA damage.

  • Hyperactivity.

  • Abdominal pain.

  • Headache.

  • Migraine.

  • Vomiting.

  • Nausea.

  • Hormonal changes.

What foods contain Yellow 6?

According to Functional Nutrition Answers, foods that contain yellow 6 include:

What are some popular foods that contain these artificial colors?

If you choose to stay away from these six dyes, here is a compiled list from Functional Nutrition Answers and Healthline of foods that contain them.

  • Aerial heads.

  • Cap’N Crunch.

  • Cheetos.

  • Doritos.

  • Fried.

  • Frosty circus animals.

  • Fruit loops.

  • Gatorade.

  • Happy breeders.

  • Lucky Charms.

  • M&Mrs.

  • Otter pops.

  • Frilly.

  • Star explosions.

  • Toaster strudel.

  • Vanilla sugar wafers.

Some brands listed above offer various flavors or alternatives. Some of these options may be dye-free. Check the nutrition label to identify the specific colors found in each food product.

As a reminder, according to the FDA, food colors generally do not pose significant health risks to the majority of individuals. However, knowing the risks can improve your overall health, according to Healthline.

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