Blue food might sound like something straight out of a whimsical Dr. Seuss book, but artificial blue dyes are very real components of our everyday diets. Let's shed some light on the two most common blue dyes, their potential side effects, and which foods they frequently color.
Chemical Composition and Side Effects
The two most common blue food dyes used in the United States are Brilliant Blue FCF (Blue 1) and Indigotine (Blue 2).
Brilliant Blue FCF (Blue 1) is a synthetic dye produced from petroleum. The most significant known side effect of Blue 1 is its potential to cause allergic reactions, including skin rashes, hives, or nasal congestion in sensitive individuals. Additionally, while rare, there are reports of Blue 1 causing blue discoloration of the skin, urine, and feces.
Indigotine (Blue 2), often called Indigo Carmine, is also a petroleum product. Allergic reactions to Blue 2 are less common but can still occur. Its consumption has been linked to tumor growth in mice, leading some researchers to question its safety.
Popular Foods Containing Blue Dye
Let's turn our attention to the top three food products that often include blue food dye:
- Candy: It's not just the blue raspberry-flavored candies that contain blue dye. Even candy with other flavors can contain blue dye to help achieve the desired color.
- Sugary Cereals: Those colorful loops and puffs that make breakfast fun for kids often owe their vibrant hues to artificial food dyes, including blue.
- Sports Drinks: Brightly colored sports drinks often contain a mix of different dyes, and blue is no exception.
It's important to remember that the FDA does approve these dyes for consumption. Still, as parents, we have the right to know what we're feeding our children. Careful label reading and questioning can reveal whether a product includes artificial food dyes.
Choosing naturally colored foods, like fruits and vegetables, over artificially colored products is a simple way to avoid these dyes. If your child is showing signs of an allergy, it may be wise to consult a doctor or dietitian to determine the root cause. Your child's health is important, and taking an active interest in their nutrition is one of the best ways to protect it.