‘Tis the Season for holiday baking…my favorite time of the year! I’ve always loved wearing my Christmas apron, making lots of yummy cookies, and adorning all the sweets with red and green candy decorations. This year, however, I’m going to have to change my ways a bit. After learning about the red dye used in a number of the food products I usually use around the holidays, I’m going to have to re-think my holiday baking. You might want to do the same.
What is red food dye?
The red food dye I’m referring to is Red Dye 40, which is a certified color that comes from coal tars. It’s found in many food products, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics, and it’s the most common artificial food coloring. When you’re baking this holiday season, you’ll find it in red candies (M&M’s, sprinkles, candy canes), canned vanilla frosting (to give it a golden tint), and even pre-made refrigerated pie crust.
It is listed on food labels as “FD&C Red No. 40” or “Red 40” and is also known as Allura Red.
Why do we care?
For starters, research shows that Red 40 has been shown to cause hyperactivity in children and is also known to cause cancer and DNA damage. More specifically, Red 40 contains p-Cresidine, which the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says is “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” In addition, the Center for Science in the Public Interest suggests Red 40 can cause allergic reactions in some people. Many European countries ban the food dye altogether.
Common Food Products Containing Red 40
Fruity Pebbles, Lucky Charms, Fruit Loops, Apple Jacks, Reese’s Peanut Butter Puffs
Nutri-Grain cereal bar, Hostess Twinkies, Betty Crocker Fruit Snacks, Doritos, Jello Gelatin
M&Ms, Twizzlers, Skittles, Peeps, Candy Corn, Candy Canes, Sprinkles, Gumdrops
V8 Splash, Gatorade, Sunkist Orange Soda, Kool-Aid mix, Mountain Dew Code Red
Common Food Products that DO NOT Contain Red 40
Berry Berry Kix
Post Shredded Wheat
Mott’s Medleys Fruit Flavored Snacks
Special K Red Berries Cereal
What to do this Holiday Season
I’m going to avoid Red 40 as best I can, and I recommend you do the same. Although it’s legal in the U.S., I’m not going to risk it. Check the ingredients on food labels, and look for foods that don’t contain any artificial dyes, such as Red 40. There are some alternatives out there. Some safer alternatives might be derived from natural products such as beets, elderberry, and purple sweet potatoes. And, please share the Red 40-Free foods you find this season. Let’s all work together to replace our “red” Christmas foods with some safer options. Cheers to happy, healthy holiday baking!!!
Stay happy, healthy, and N motion, AND REMEMBER…age is just a number!