Recently at the grocery store my daughter grabbed a colorful box of Duff Goldman Tie Dye Cake Mix off the shelf and exclaimed, “So cool!”. I took one look at the box of tie-dye cake mix and my first thought was, “Yuck, poisonous food coloring from hell!“.
Laughing to myself at the stark difference in reaction between my daughter and me, I realized that this was a good opportunity to talk to her about artificial food dyes, and while they make look pretty, they can make you sick if you eat them. Although we won’t be serving this tie dyed disaster at my house, we can bake our own fun colorful cakes using better ingredients. It’s fairly easy and inexpensive to dye your own cake batter with blended berries (red and blue), turmeric (yellow), and juiced beets (red/pink), carrots (orange) or spinach (green). A small amount of juice is needed, which keeps the cost low and doesn’t add much flavor. Of course, you can also buy pre-made natural food colorings, if you are short on time. I found this recipe for a naturally colored rainbow cake, which I just might try baking with my daughter for our next special occasion.
What potentially harmful food dyes are in Duff’s Tie Dye Cake Mix?
All of the artificial food dyes in Duff’s tie-dye cake mix are banned and regarded as unsafe for human consumption in several countries. Nonetheless, here in the U.S.A., the FDA gives them all a thumbs up! This tells me that just because the FDA has approved an ingredient, it is not necessarily safe to eat, especially on a regular basis. Many of the food colorings that the FDA has approved have been shown to contribute to diseases according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest. This is easily understood when you realize that artificial food colorings are made with coal tar (a carcinogen) and are permitted to contain poisonous lead, mercury & arsenic.
Red #40 (Allura) This artificial coloring is banned in France, Denmark, Belgium, and Switzerland and is not recommended for consumption by children in Europe. If that isn't enough reason for you to avoid it, studies were conducted in Britain that proved a correlation between consumption of Red No. 40 and hyperactivity disorder, ADHD, especially when eaten along with Sodium Benzoate (preservative) that is also contained in this cake mix. Yellow #5 (Tartrazine) An estimated 1 in 10,000 of us are allergic to this chemical. It is widely suspected to exasperate ADHD sysmptoms, and leaches the mineral Zinc from your system. The Pediatrics journal once noted that this coloring causes cancer, thyroid tumors and asthma. Although allowed for use in the European Union, products containing Yellow No. 5 in the E.U. come with a warning sticker. In the U.S.,the only way you know that it is in your food is if you read the ingredients, which are not labeled in restaurants. This coloring is used by many popular food brands such as Mountain Dew, and Subway restaurant adds this concoction to their banana peppers and pickles. Blue #1 (Brilliant Blue) Not so "brilliant" after all, this poisonous dye inhibits cell respiration. Good cell respiration has been shown to kill cancer cells, so you want those babies to respirate! Beware that Blue No. 1 is in many toothpaste and shaving cream brands, and has been shown to be able to enter the the bloodstream through normal use. This is why I recently changed to coloring-free toiletry products! Red #3 (Erythrosine) Already partially banned by the FDA and under investigation for a full ban in the U.S., this coloring is still allowed in food products. The FDA indicates that studies on Red No. 3 show it is linked to thyroid cancer, yet it is still permitted.
Allowing fake coloring in our food must change!
It seems that the FDA is slow to remove dangerous food colorings from their approved list. The only way to protect yourself is to read ingredient labels and refuse to buy products from companies that use these potentially harmful dyes.
We also need alternatives. Do you have a cake recipe with all-natural food colorings that you can share? Please post them in the comments below.
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