Why This Dad Despises Red 40 And Crimson Lake Food Dyes

13 months.

Would you eat petroleum? What if it made your food more physically more appealing?

What about insects? Are you cool with eating ground-up bugs?

The funny thing is, you and your kids already do. And the FDA approves it.

In 5th and 6th grade, I was a pretty sick kid. I had so many stomach issues back then that today I still owe my ability to unclog any toilet back to 20 years ago when I had to carry around TUMS Extra at all times.

What made it worse was that I suffered anxiety attacks, which helped keep a vicious circle going: I was always nervous that my extreme digestion issues would flare up at any moment, especially in public places where I couldn’t escape to a restroom. And when they did, it only fueled my anxieties.

Keeping in mind that this was during a time when there was no such thing as “looking it up on the Internet,” fortunately my mom heard from another mom that I should stay away from any foods with red food dye: namely “Red 40″ and “Crimson Lake.” There was no way for us to know what was in those food dyes, but whatever it was, I stopped consuming it.

No more red Kool-Aid. No more Twizzlers. No more red anything unless it came that way naturally.

As you can imagine because of this article’s title, both my extreme indigestion and my anxiety attacks went away. But it wouldn’t be until the glorious arrival of Wikipedia that I would know exactly what was in those red food dyes:

Red 40: Made mostly from petroleum, this red dye can easily be found in sodas, cotton candy, and children’s medications. It has been linked to cases of ADHD and hyperactivity in children. Red 40 is also known as Allura Red AC.

Crimson Lake: Made from the powdered and boiled bodies of scale insects (parasites of plants) this dye is commonly found in yogurt, juice drinks, ice cream, and candy. Though I am a vegetarian, I still abide by kosher law, which prohibits the consumption of any insect other than the locust. Crimson Lake is also known as Carmine.

Fun fact: The closing scene of the movie The Wedding Planner makes a reference to these dyes as the “added chemicals” in red M&M’s that Jennifer Lopez’s character throws out.

Can you blame me from not trusting the FDA? It should common sense that people shouldn’t eat petroleum or parasites. So you know what? I am my own FDA. I decide what weird stuff my family does and does not eat.

And I’ll tell ya… bugs and oil are not on our menu.

Top image of scale insects, courtesy of Frank Vincentz. 

Bottom image of scale insect nests, courtesy of Oscar Carrizosa.

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  1. by Marcia

    On January 19, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    Thank you for your article. A website that would be of great interest to you is http://www.feingold.org, the website of the Feingold Association named after the dr publicized the link between diet and behavior, continues his work and helps families avoid red #40 and the other just as bad synthetic dyes.

  2. by Nick Shell

    On January 19, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    Marcia, thanks for the info :) Very handy

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