Food Dyes: The Toxic Rainbow


In keeping with my passion for pure products and a deep love of research, I unearthed troubling information about synthetic food dyes.

In this five-part series entitled Food Dyes: The Toxic Rainbow, we’ll examine the following topics:

    • Part 1: A Little Knowledge Goes a Long Way  
    • Part 2: A Look into the History of Food Dyes
    • Park 3: Are Artificial Food Dyes as Safe as the FDA Claims Them to be?
    • Part 4: Which Foods Contain Food Dyes?
    • Part 5: Is There a Healthy Natural Alternative to Food Dyes?

I guarantee that by the time you finish reading this five-part series, you too will become a voracious label-reader.

Part 1

A Little Knowledge Goes a Long Way

Each year, manufacturers in the United States dump 15 million pounds of artificial food dyes into our food system.  The most common dyes are …

  • Blue 1
  • Blue 2
  • Green 3
  • Red 40
  • Red 3
  • Yellow 5
  • Yellow 6
  • Orange B
  • Citrus Red No. 2

What’s a Dye and What’s a Lake?

With the exception of Red 3, the previous list of artificial food coloring can be categorized as either a Dye or a Lake.  So Blue 1 can also be called Blue 1 Lake.  And here’s the reason…

Dyes dissolve in water and will not mix with oils.  They mostly come in granular or fine powder form.

Lakes are dispersed in oils and can be mixed with oils, sugars, and fats.  Without getting too ‘technical’, a Lake is made with specific concentrations of Dye.  The percentage of Dye in a Lake could vary from 15% to 42% pure Dye.

If a food product contains an artificial food dye, then you’ll find one, or more, of these names on the nutritional label.  They’re usually listed as a last ingredient.

Okay, so why are food dyes added to our food in the first place?


We live in a world where eye-catching vibrant color means fresh products. A deep red apple has more appeal than an apple with a pale yellow/green exterior.

Ketchup wouldn’t sell if it were pale pink, which is more in keeping with  the color of crushed tomatoes. Manufacturers know that people are more attracted to colorful food. They will continue to add artificial food dye to their products in order to market their brand.

Also, food dyes depict a popular image of a product.  For example, a little, blue-mouthed girl who orders a blueberry flavored snow cone expects it to look bright blue and would be disappointed with anything less colorful.  Some peppermint ice cream is infused with green dye to make it look more like refreshing peppermint.

In Part 2 we’ll examine the history of food dyes.  Until then…Happy Label-Reading!