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Seeing Red: One Mother (A Medical Writer) Investigates Food Dyes

October 4, 2013 •  102 comments.

 •  Blog, News

Written by Amy Kilgore, a medical writer and healthcare public relations specialist who has a daughter with extreme sensitivity to dyes, for AllergyKids

My daughter was two, and I was seeing red. A lot of red.

I wasn’t angry. I was horrified. I had just discovered that the rash my toddler would get after certain candies was not in fact caused by chocolate, that the hyperactivity was not from too much sugar, that her uncontrollable bouts of crying and angry behavior were not because I was doing a lousy job of being a mom.

My little girl Monica was reacting to food dyes. Most specifically, Red 40 and Yellow 5. I can’t recall which friend suggested it and what exact moment I realized it, but by the time she was two I was certain. I had (painfully) tested my theory by giving her things with red and yellow food dyes and logging the reactions. Yellow: rash, hyperactivity, trouble sleeping. Red: hyperactivity, followed by (really) mean behavior, followed by shaking and crying; trouble sleeping. It was exhausting and heartbreaking to witness her little body’s reaction when invaded by these dangerous and unnatural additives.

Even more frightening was the realization of how many foods contain dyes.

I’ll never forget one specific call from my mom. She was watching Monica, her firstborn grandbaby, for the day while I worked from home and caught up with life. I was putting clothes in the dryer when the phone rang. I could hear her concern in “Hi.” Followed by, “What has happened to our sweet girl?”

Mom explained how Monica had been behaving – not listening, running around wildly, screaming, crying. I told her that the day before had been a bit trying as well. But we were perplexed, because we were so very careful with keeping her diet dye-free and had been the only ones feeding her for days.

Then my mom, a registered nurse, gasped. “Omigosh. Her antibiotic is pink. You don’t think…?” I called the pharmacy. Yep, the liquid antibiotic we were giving Monica to treat an ear infection had Red 40. I had dosed her twice a day for four days with Red 40! Several calls to the pediatrician and pharmacy resulted in a prescription for an antibiotic without any artificial coloring, a note in Monica’s chart and pharmacy file, and a little girl who within a day was calm, cool and collected (albeit exhausted).

I needed to know more about food dyes, and Mom and I dove into researching how and why they could “flip the switch” in Monica and, I assumed, most children. The more I learned, the sadder I felt for our children. Not only are food dyes causing hyperactivity, inability to concentrate, aggressiveness, sleep problems, increased symptoms of autism and ADHD, among many others, but they are known carcinogens. They cause cancer.

Here’s some food for thought from the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

“Back in 1985, the acting commissioner of the FDA said that Red 3, one of the lesser-used dyes, “has clearly been shown to induce cancer” and was “of greatest public health concern.” However, Secretary of Agriculture John R. Block pressed the Department of Health and Human Services not to ban the dye, and he apparently prevailed—notwithstanding the Delaney Amendment that forbids the use of in foods of cancer-causing color additives. Each year about 200,000 pounds of Red 3 are poured into such foods as Betty Crocker’s Fruit Roll-Ups and ConAgra’s Kid Cuisine frozen meals. Since 1985 more than five million pounds of the dye have been used.

“Tests on lab animals of Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 showed signs of causing cancer or suffered from serious flaws, said the consumer group. Yellow 5 also caused mutations, an indication of possible carcinogenicity, in six of 11 tests.

“In addition, according to the report, FDA tests show that the three most-widely used dyes, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6, are tainted with low levels of cancer-causing compounds, including benzidine and 4-aminobiphenyl in Yellow 5. However, the levels actually could be far higher, because in the 1990s the FDA and Health Canada found a hundred times as much benzidine in a bound form that is released in the colon, but not detected in the routine tests of purity conducted by the FDA.”
Source: www.cspinet.org

Monica’s diet is completely dye-free, as are those of her little brother and my sister’s three boys. Not all five kids react the same to dyes – two react more intensely – but we still see significant behavioral reactions if they accidentally ingest food dyes, especially Red 40 and Yellow 5.

Of course, maintaining dye-free diets becomes a great challenge once they hit school age and are not always under our watchful eyes. At the suggestion of my pediatrician, we list food dyes as an “allergy” on their medical forms. Listing as a “sensitivity” just didn’t garner the same attention and adherence to avoidance. Yet there are slip-ups, such as when a well-meaning teacher gives orange punch, saying it’s okay because it’s not red or yellow (sigh). Or when the treat handed out is a “safe” white cupcake with white frosting, yet the inside is “confetti” with pink and red candies.

A recent incident sent the same shock through me that I had felt when I started investigating Red 40 eight years ago. I was having lunch with Monica, now age nine, at Eat’n Park. As long as we ate plain burgers and fruit for a side, Eat’n Park was one of the few restaurants I had tested and actually deemed “safe.” As a general rule, we reserve dessert as an occasional treat. That day I didn’t see any reason why Monica couldn’t have a slice of pie while I enjoyed another cup of coffee.

We spent a long time looking over the pie menu. Lemon meringue? Nope, looked too yellow. The same with banana cream. Strawberry? Not a chance – way too red. Together we narrowed it down to apple or chocolate cream. She chose chocolate cream and was thoroughly enjoying it when I noticed the crust had a pink tint on the top where the chocolate cream was sitting, as did the white whipped cream topping where it touched the brown chocolate. I couldn’t imagine it had red dye (chocolate pie?!), but I strongly urged her not to eat any more. Much to her dismay, she stopped eating the pie about halfway through the slice.

We had been having such a fantastic day – she’d been in such a good mood. Fast forward about one hour post-pie. She’s sitting in my car in her grandparents’ driveway, screaming at me and refusing to get out of the car because she wants to go home to change clothes. Even forceful prodding from her dad didn’t work. Exasperated, chalking it up to pre-teen hormones, I take her to change her clothes. As I’m telling her how inappropriate her behavior is and asking what in the world is wrong, she’s so busy yelling and talking angry to me she doesn’t hear a word I say. She even got so mad at one point that she hit my seat.

Following these completely out-of-character temper tantrums and verbal lashings, she starts pacing and bouncing and can’t even stand in front of the closet long enough to focus on what clothes to change into. She can’t make even the simplest decisions and can’t stand still long enough even if she wanted to. Still not making the red dye connection (forgetting about the pie), I head to the couch to sit and ride it out.

Monica ends up on the couch next to me, shaking and sobbing uncontrollably and asking me to make whatever is happening to her stop. Squirming and itching and rocking and crying, “Just make it stop, mom!” Finally exhausted, she lays her head on my lap in exhaustion. The whole episode lasts about an hour.

I call my mom and share the whole incident with her. Mom asks what Monica ate, starting with the previous day. Needless to say, I had déjà vu when I got to the Eat’n Park meal (“Omigosh. The chocolate cream pie. You don’t think…?”). Sure enough, one call to Eat’n Park and a pie ingredient check proved it – the chocolate cream pie had Red 40.

It’s certainly a challenge to avoid these dyes and many of the food preservatives I now don’t let anywhere near our mouths. I have a significant number of food allergies and have become very well educated on eating “clean” (whole, natural, organic), so I’m sure it’s easier for me to stay focused on living this way. But we absolutely cannot continue to ingest these dyes, especially children. If we could eliminate these dyes from our foods and our bodies, I am completely convinced that cancer prevalence would lower as well as the occurrence of ADHD and autism, among other cognitive, behavioral and emotional disturbances. The world would seriously be a better, much healthier place.

Amy Kilgore is a medical writer and public relations specialist in Akron, Ohio, and mom to Monica and Chase. Living on a restricted diet for the past 15 years due to multiple food allergies, Amy is strongly dedicated to whole, natural and healthy eating as well as providing education and sharing experiences about the ill effects of processed food, additives and dyes.

102 Responses to “Seeing Red: One Mother (A Medical Writer) Investigates Food Dyes”

  1. Hey, I’m Elizabeth Neal, 13 years old. I figured I had a red dye allergy. It sucks. I mean I don’t have a terrible reaction to it, but it sucks. I break out in red blotches that looks sort of like hives. I usually get them on my arms, neck, and face. Kids at school were no help they would taunt me. Kids at school asked me,”want a fruit roll up?” And once more people figured out one kid said, “I’m going to bring red velvet cake for my birthday.” They were really mean. But my teacher Mrs. Boes had a red dye allergy and she claimed to grow out of it? I’m not sure, but I hope I will grow out of it. Watching what I have to eat really sucks. I cried because the red blotches itched and they were hot. But you get used to watchin what you consume. It gets better:)

    • Momof2

      Elizabeth you are awesome!! Kids our entire lives will be mean and as an adult you will encounter mean ones too. My daughter who is 9 is allergic to dyes unfortunately and fortunately we went 8 years of terrible behavior, anger, self hate talk, doctors, brain scans etc all unexplained until the information of dye allergies happened to literally fall into my lap like a gift and 3 days after I took them out she became a new person-I didn’t even recognize. She has been dye free for almost a year and a completely new child sometimes I want to pinch myself from the change and 8 years if suffering from disgusting dyes! She is in the same boat with watching what she ingests and it is hard for kids because of course the candy and school parties etc. but let me tell you this-you are stronger than the kids who tease you because you are caring for your body you have more will power than the kids who make fun of you because you can say no. Remember that mean kids never win. Remember that you will grow older and be stronger and more successful and kind. You like my daughter rock!
      Just a tip- I usually stock up on dye free organic Iollipops and chocolates and give them to my daughters teacher when there are birthday parties or when I know class parties are happening I always make a dessert and send her in with her own treats-most of the kids are jealous of what she gets to have! And honestly she is the one winning because she isn’t poisoning her system-remember that!

  2. Shane Carlson

    We brought home Haribo gummy bears from Germany and they use only natural dyes, but marketed in the U.S. the dyes for Haribo gummy bears are all synthetic. We can rise up and change this situation and rid the food system of synthetic dye in food. Germany did.

  3. beth

    My husband lost his spleen due to motorcycle wreck . Since the wreck he breaks out when he eats some things… we have just in the last few months figured out red dye is the cause ! There is also a chemical that is used as a preservative that causes him to break out.

  4. Pam

    My 4 year old grandson has been struggling with severe stomach pains for 3 weeks. After 3 visits to e.r.was diagnosed with functional abdominal pain disorder. A name for “we dont know why he is in pain but nothing is wrong.” Today after eating a red popsycle, it dawned on me. Red dye! He cried himself to sleep after eating that. But why is it bothering him now and not a year ago? Im reading the ingredients alot closer from now on.

  5. Laura

    I have a 9 year old son who has severe behavioral and emotional reactions to red dye. We have essentially eliminated it from our family’s diet. I get dye free candy from Naturalcandy.com for the holidays and thankfully our NY schools have forbidden foods for birthdays and holidays in school due to allergies and obesity. It is insane to me that these dyes are outlawed in Europe but allowed here, as doctors sigh and say they have no idea why autism and ADHD are so prevalent now. We have to go back to our grandparents’ diets and just eat REAL FOOD!

  6. Dan

    These companies have poisoned us for far too long. The medical industry, the legal industry, the pharmaceutical industry, the food industry……they’re all in on it together. The food industry poisons us, we get sick, go to the doctor and get diagnosed with some made-up illness. Then, the doctor prescribes medications which are laced with more toxins, which makes us even more sick with something else, so they prescribe something for the next illness. After realizing what made us sick, we then might contact a lawyer (which lines their pockets), and we might win some money. However, the company we are suing already knows what they have is poison, and they factor lawsuits into their accounting books. They weigh the plus/minus and realize that even after being sued, the still make billions. It’s simply an expense of doing buisiness.

    With that said, we need to blast the Facebook pages of these companies that put poisons in our food. Advertise all of the links on your Facebook page, and let the company know you’re doing this. Money talks, and the companies will change if enough people stop buying their poison.

  7. Jaimey

    I have to say I am so thankful you have put your story out there for us all to see, thank you thank you! I am an RN, self-professed closet hippie, who is seriously OCD on making sure my family eats as much fresh non-GMO local certified organic food as possible, visit farmers markets, grow some of our own foods and teach our 3 yr old son what real food is and how to be a wholisticly balanced being in kid terms when possible. All products purchased are by me and researched, yes I am a control freak too. Mostly I am horrified at the allergic reactions my son has had to Dairy, and is having with his behavior currently with most likely food dyes. It’s the only thing I can think of. I will be testing it methodically soon, more likely just eliminating all dyes and calling them allergies. When I worked in the hospital I hated that we used Johnson and Johnson baby shampoo because they hadn’t changed it to the new safer formulation yet, like they have been forced to use internationally for a while now. It does work. Internationally they say, we won’t use your product with these ingredients. Phase them out by this date or we pull them from our shelves. It’s magic. If the US would just follow suit, we would definitely see a decline in these adverse outcomes.

  8. Christy

    I’m beginning to think my 8 year old son is allergic to food dyes, possibly blue. He has had a “strange feeling” when he urinates, but not all the time. We have taken him to the pediatrician and urologist, done sonograms, at found nothing. That’s the good news, but he still has issues sometimes. I have a hunch that he’s allergic to a food dye and when he urinates, it can be irritating for him. One day at the movies he slurped up a Blue Icey and within 30 minutes he was having bathroom issues again. We already know he has major environmental allergies. My question: Is there a test for a food dye allergy? Or does one just have to go through the elimination process?

    • Amy D.

      My son was 6 when he was given some blue-green antihistamine for his allergies. His face swelled up, his eyes were swollen almost shut and the whole time im thinking this was due to allergies. He had never taken this medicine before and since my dr. went out of town I took him to another dr. who figured out why this was happening. Once I took him off the blue-green antihistamine he looked “normal”. He was still sniffing and snorting but at least you could see his eyes. We always list blue dye allergies when ever we go to the hospital or anything. Hope this helps.

  9. Tanya Lee

    I’m reading your blog on the dyes as I am awake at 11:15 due to severe heartburn. I’m 42 and the allergy came on suddenly about 5 years ago. I thought it was just to Red 40, but now I think I’ll have to add Yellow 5 to my list of things to avoid. Had some country time lemonade with dinner. Thanks to you I looked for that. How can we get them to stop using dyes in everything we eat?

  10. Robbi

    I’m 24 and lived my whole life (well until 21) with stomach issues (diarrhea and random puke sprees). I had a friend with a gluten allergy that noticed every time I would be sick it was always pinkish. So on a whim she suggested I cut red 40 out of my diet to see if it made a difference. It completely did. I no longer have terrible poos and puke sessions. I mean I had diarrhea on a daily basis for so long I thought that was the norm. I suffer often from constipation now but I attribute that to basically being on laxatives my whole life. I was 105lbs when I cut it out of my diet and for 5’8″ that was rather unhealthy looking but now I’m up to 150lbs. I gained 45 pounds in the first year I stopped ingesting that crap. I look and feel much better now.

    • Robbi

      May I also add that I have realized just how much stuff has red 40 in it? Chain supermarkets put it in beef (hamburger & steak) to make it look “fresher” longer, farm raised salmon live in it so they keep that “fresh” bright pink that wild caught salmon have. WHITE CAKE MIX & WHITE ICING. Some chocolate to make it appear “richer” it’s still a learning process. I wish restaurants would post ingredients on menus or something because when I say I have a food sensitivity they don’t take my request seriously. I am much more sensitive to it since I stopped eating it too. Now if I accidentally eat something I was unaware of having red 40 I have to call off work and I find myself considering an imodium overdose until it passes.

    • Margaret

      Thank you for pointing out the dye in beef in your comment below. My daughter has good and bad days and I’m pretty sure it has to do with dyes. I really try to get good grass fed beef from a local health food place. Lately we have been on a real tight budget and I’ve been getting meat from the supermarket. So now that I know their sneaky trick it makes perfect sense. I’ve been avoiding food dyes for a long time so I just couldn’t figure this out. It really makes me angry, actually. Companies put profit before consumer’s well-being.
      I’m happy to say this week I bought the good stuff. It cost me 50% of my food budget, but it’s well worth it.

  11. elizabeth

    thank you for you story. I have been trying to figure out what been going on with my 2 year old son. He is in a program and they are not sure if he’s hyperactive or has a sensory seeking disorder. He started to get more an more hyper around 18 months but he always had trouble sleeping as a baby and now a toddler. I always thought he wasn’t sleeping through the night ever because he was teething so I would give him IBP or Tylenol which both have red dye in it. It seem to only make things worse and he would be crying in his sleep. Recently after eating fruit snacks he was out of control for hours. I always wondered why some days he was calm and would focus and others completely out of control. I am doing my own test as well starting with completely eliminating dyes.

  12. Brittany

    Thank you for your article! Our 19 month old has had two reactions to red dye we think. If she gets any food on her mouth that has it, she gets a raised welp type rash. It lasts for about 20 mins or so and then slowly fades. She is prone to tantrums, screaming, hitting, biting. I never knew that dye could be the root problem. Or maybe it’s her age, only time will tell. I’ve talked to her doctor, who thinks it’s merely a skin sensitivity issue more than a allergy. Starting today, I’m putting her on a red dye free week to see if it’s the problem.

  13. Mark

    I think my wife has a similar red 40 sensitivity. For her it causes abdominal pain, some flushing, and a painful red rash on and around her lips. We eliminated it from her diet about 8 months ago and the perioral rash has COMPLETELY resolved. She still has abdominal pain, but she has other health issues and the pain has improved from her previous baseline.

    Has anyone tried home allergy testing? We poured some red dye on her forearm and my forearm (as a control) but there was no reaction. We are considering trying a scratch test or putting it on her lips where she had the worst symptoms, but haven’t gone that far yet. Anyone try something like this before? It is a very hard diet to stick to, unfortunately. All her fruity alcoholic drinks are off limits 🙁

    • Melissa

      My 14 yo daughter has anaphylaxis to red 40, yellow 5, and yellow 6. I am a pharmacist at a major medical center and had never heard of such a severe reaction to food dyes- until it happened to her. For her it starts with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea within minutes of ingesting a dye-containing food, followed by an all over reddening of the skin over her entire body, then itching, tingling/numbness of the feet and hands, lip swelling and shortness of breath.
      This has happened 4 times since she was 12. We did skin test her and the test was negative. However we know exactly what she ate just before each of these reactions and the only ingredient in common were these food dyes. There is a known chemical similarity between one of the yellows and red 40.
      It takes 2 epi pens, Benadryl, Pepcid/Zantac, and steroids to manage her reaction.
      Her allergist fully attributes this to a food dye allery and it is so uncommon in their practice that they have never seen it. There are no good tests for it. We had her tested for a lot of other things too that were more common (the big 8) but those were all negative. In 2 years of avoiding food dyes she hasn’t had a reaction.
      But tonight we had meat from BJs warehouse for the first time since this all started and she anaphylaxed. I think they put red 40 in the steaks! We ended up in the ER. So scary.

  14. michael quesnel

    After reading this and some of the comments to my daughter she told me to mibd my own.. her kids are dead ringers for these behavioral issues.. what to do ?

    • sandra

      copy and paste these viniettes and email them to your daughter.

  15. What antibiotic did you end up using? We have a little one who was just prescribed amoxicillin and the pharmacy only has two options in meds for her age (she’ll be 3 in February) and both contain Red 40 – the other option also has high fructose corn syrup and carrageenan! I am not of the opinion that we will heal this little girl with dyes, tumor causing GMOs and pro-inflammatory thickeners, but need help finding options – thus far the nurses and pharmacists are stumped, can you help?

    • Laura

      My almost 3 year old son was also prescribed amoxicillin for an ear infection. He turned into a monster. He has been biting kids at school unprovoked when he is normally a sweet, happy little boy. The pediatrician’s office and pharmacy both denied that the antibiotic is causing the problem and will not offer alternative medications. What do you do? Endure the behavior for 10 long days? Take him off the antibiotic?

    • melissa

      My son had to take halved pills that were for adults for one illness. It was a trial but we got through it. I get crazy looks from the pharmacy and doctors but I stand my ground and fight for it.

  16. sheryl

    My daughter is allergic to red dye 40. We have been in and out of hospital do to aniphylaxis shock. The sad part is there is no test for it.
    I debate with docters everyday. They all say it is vocal disfunction. She has had the test for that and she is fine. My heart breaks cause docters don’t believe it cause it is not in a text book
    . Her pediatrician knows that it is what it is but everyone else says no either she is depressed and her brain is causing this issue. But it only happens when she eats it. The sad part is the fda does not require it to be on everything. I have red and called and found it doesn’t have to be labeled. I am on my last string of hope. Her body is now rejecting the ephanephrine

  17. Angie

    My daughter gets hives all over after eating red 40, I think it’s a certain amount though, she can tolerate it most times but every now and then, it will break out. My guess it her body hits a certain threshold above what is normal and then breaks out. I know it’s red40 because it happens immediately right after a very red food such as strawberry yogurt, ONE SIP of slurpee, one bite of fruit roll up, I am thinking these items have TOO MUCH. Is there an allergy test for red 40 specifically?

  18. Dana Tweed-Bucelato

    My daughter has had issues to red dye from the age of 3. We were lucky that a nurse figured it out while she was in a hospital. I’ve always considered it an intolerance, and if she occasionally got something by mistake, I would deal with her psychotic episode, until one night she ate a bag of gummy bears. She was watching movies, and her older brother gave her some. Within an hour she was asleep, she began vomiting in her sleep, had convulsions, and was non responsive. After taking her to an allergist who told me she never heard of a food allergy causing a seizure, I took her for an EEG, and she had nothing show up! My only conclusion is the gummy bears, and I can’t even have her tested for red dye allergy. So now I am scared to death this will happen again! It is criminal that these dyes are in everything!

  19. Elizabeth

    My 13 year old daughter gets a facial tic when she eats food dye that last 2-5 days. It took us about two years to figure out. If I flash back to when she was little she was really “jumpy” when she had candies and such. We blamed it on the sugar. My younger daughter seems to have a reaction also. She gets really really hyper and loses focus. UGH!

  20. Diana

    Hi, I would like to recommend the organization called Fiengold at http://www.feingold.org/. Please, anyone having issues with food “allergies” for their children, please check out this organization. I have been a member of Fiengold for 19 years now. It started when my 3rd and 4th son, now 20 and 21 years respectively, began having erratic behavior problems as toddlers.

    Both had “allergies” to red 40, red 4 and a preservative. Exhibiting the same behavior patterns as described in the article above. Interestingly, my first 2 sons, by a different husband, had no such reactions to foods.

    Check out Fiengold, they have detailed food lists and much more.. they are awesomely helpful.

  21. S.R-Kilgore

    I am very interested to come across this article. I’ve noticed that my autistic 5 year old has been getting frequent diarrhea after consuming foods that exhibit themselves in shades of blue and purple. He similarly gets diarrhea after consuming chocolate. His behavior has been a real challenge for us as well, and his “tummy troubles” have strongly impacted his school attendance. I just had him tested for allergies (quite an ordeal to go through a blood test with an autistic little guy, but he was a champ), and they did not find any reactions to most common allergens. They did not test for chocolate or food coloring though. I take him back to the doctors in a few days to discuss further tests and a possible consult with an allergist, and I was curious about what to ask for, etc. Also, as a side note, I cannot help but notice that your married last name is also Kilgore. I’m wondering if there is a genetic link in the Kilgore family that predisposes them to allergies to food coloring. Might be interesting to look into that. Anyway, please let me know which tests to ask for and such. Thank you in advance for your assistance.

  22. Darren B

    I just wanted to chime in here as I see that this is still being added to comment wise. I’m a 28 year old guy from England living in America, for most of my life I have had no problems with allergies barring one antibiotic. Around 16 I started to get horrible swelling of my lips, accompanied by rashes and blisters, it lasts around 2 weeks and ‘nothing’ helps it. It took me two years to narrow down what was causing it and I believe it to be a lasagna that had E129 as a colorant which is very unusual as most food in the UK is colorant free in my experience (Red 40 in the US), every time I stopped eating it I would use a chapstick…that was red…to help my lips, so it appeared to come back randomly (also my girlfriend at the time occasionalyl wore red lipstick colored with the dye, though not always and not always that Red.

    It was hell, I met my now wife and she basically sealed the deal when we kissed for the first time, she’d worn lipstick and it happened in about 5 minutes, look on the ingredients, boom, Red 40. I went to the Doctors with that news and they basically told me that I was mistaken and you couldn’t be allergic to a food coloring, seriously?! The human body can basically be allergic to ANYTHING if you get unlucky enough. I’m sitting here typing after my MIL left behind a box of fig newtons that I can normally eat as they’re uncolored, this time she bought the fruit kind with ‘Real Fruit’ colored with, you guessed it, Red 40 so I didn’t think to check until I tasted fruit (had assumed like the other 99% of the time they were just plain) which then led to a spit take, much mouth rinsing, but I can still feel the tingles coming on.

    Allergies to this can be no joke, I’ve kissed my wife on the evening after she ate a few candied fruits on the MORNING, went through her day, brushed her teeth when she got home, kissed me, and then 8 hours later, yep allergic reaction again.

    BUT! There is some help for this, while I can’t seem to get any doctor I go to to do anything about it the pharmacist said that if you take Benadryl (not the regular because, yep, Red 40) and something like Zantac or famitidine (I take both at the same time because screw 2 weeks of agony feeling like my mouth is being cheesegrated) it can help lower the reaction, there are 2 types of ‘blockers’ that can help out here. H1 is what is in benadryl, that won’t help because this allergy doesn’t activate the same pathways as normal allergies but when it’s combined with a H2 blocker they are synergistic and both work better, this was the only suggestion I’ve been given and I hope it works for some of you.

    Note, I am not a doctor, you can find testimonies about those combination of drugs on the internet and other forums.

    Food dyes are basically pointless, there to trick the gullible into eating trash by saving the companies who use them cents on the price instead of using natural alternatives (most of these food dyes are petrochemicals).

    Many places in Europe have banned many of the food dyes that the US uses because they are harmful to health, in England you can go to the cheapest section of the cheapest supermarket (Tesco, Asda (walmart) and buy frozen means for about $0.60 and they will be free of artifical flavors, colors, and preservatives and yet we can’t even get that right over here…

  23. Tina

    I think my children are allergic to sugar and dyes.

    The allergist said she cannot test for dyes or sugar.

    She said bring in food with the dye and she can test that.

    What foods would be the best to bring?

  24. Marilyn

    A little history on me. 2 years ago i thought that I was having mini half second seizures. I went to a neurologist who said that he didn’t think that they were seizures so i paid attention to what i was eating and the only common ingredient was red 40.. so i avoided all foods with red 40.
    On April 1, 2015, I felt my head cold move into my chest and being the weekend before Easter i really wanted to nip it. So i started using the generic for mucinex max. I didnt think to read the ingredients! It has red40 and far from the last ingredient. On April 2 i had a 5 minute grand mal seizure in front of my 12 year old ( she was traumatized). I have no recollection of the seizure or 20-30 minutes after. Anyway the neurologist put me on antiseizure medication. I am searching for a natural neurologist but i cant find one. The neurologists seem to be pill pushers. My naturopath said that she hasn’t heard of a natural neurologist.. she is testing me for the MTHFR genetic disorder. Which if i am positive could mean that my liver is unable to detox the red40 out of my body. Does anyone know of a natural neurologist? Or where can I find some science to back my red40 caused my seizure theory? Thanks in advance.

  25. melissa

    THIS! More and more, I am finding we are not alone. In desperation, years ago, I googled my sons behaviors and found one site that listed them all. Red dye. We don’t even buy pink lip balm or body wash that has it. Better safe than sorry.

    I am considering removing yellows completely too, but it’s harder.

    TONS of companies make cheaper products than the major players that are dye free. Store brand crescents and pie crusts are dye free are red dye free. Watch out for Pillsbury. They are evil. 🙂 People are shocked when they hear their favorite products are laced with dyes. Sad.

    Good luck. I’m right there with ya.

  26. Beth

    My daughter is allergic to Yellow 5 and 6. When she was little she had facial tics that would come and go and jerking movements. Doctors had no answers for me. Then she showed signs of autism, uncontrolled screaming fits, inability to stop herself from getting into dangerous situations(like jumping in front of cars!) but all of these symptoms would come and go. I did the Feingold diet with her and it was more than apparent that it was the food dyes causing all of her symptoms. I now can tell right away when she has had some. She is now 9 and knows what to look out for. The doctors still argue with me when I ask for dye free antibiotics, I have even brought published studies in to show them. I am an RN it is not like I don’t know what I am talking about. Dyes are everywhere, lip gloss, shampoos, pickles, marshmallows, toothpastes. I am hoping that soon they will get rid of these things. Blue food dye has even caused a death from crushing a lollipop and giving it thru a feeding tube. They know these things are toxic.

  27. Tugce

    I have a question and i thought you could have an idea on this matter. I’ve added food coloring to some science and sensory activities we do at home. My son’s hands reacted heavily to smt but at first i didn’t realize it was food dye, he did not digest it, just played with it. His fingers’ skin has blistered and peeled off and now one of his fingers had started devoloping an infection. I believe this is caused by the food dye, have you ever heard smt like this or do you believe this could be the case?

  28. Fern

    My son who is now 22 has a red dye allergy. We figured it out when he was pretty young because whenever he ate any processed RED food or drink, he got very hyper. In the last few years he has diligently been reading the ingredients of everything he eats. He just noticed that the chewable cherry flavored aspirin and some beef jerky has it in there. Does anyone know if there is something he can take to counteract the symptoms? We haven’t found anything. When he was young and didn’t know what was causing his hyperactivity, I encouraged him to run around the house – it didn’t help. I can’t help but think that there is something that could help. I realize the best thing is to never eat it but every once in a while something sneaks in.

  29. Elisabeth

    Great article. Aren’t food dyes illegal in the European Union? Why do they get it and we don’t?
    My daughter, who is 21 now, has had a know red dye allergy since she was 6. She gets huge hives and they have gotten to the point where they were on her neck and chest with a very small dose (ice breakers fruit mints with tiny yellow and orange dots, that we didn’t even realize they had.) when it started it was fruit punch that made us realize it. Now we check labels. The problem is many things like antibiotics (even for adults) have it. Pillsbury biscuits have it. Yo plait yogurt did but I believe they took it out. Most Gatorade. Candy. Jelly. Even soaps and lotions, bath and body works is the worst. Even the clear ones have it in it. Since hers is a clear allergy it would be hard for a doc to deny, but an email to the fda basically said too bad that it’s in so many mess with now laws against it. You are the minority and we have no intention of doing anything about it so piss off. In their so kind government speak.
    Anyway my daughter is also allergic to penicillin and sulfa so it is hard to find antibiotics for frequent sinus infections. Zpak and keflex are effective but nearly impossible to find without dye. If anyone has any options please get back to me. It’s a huge life threatening issue.
    With all the people who have commented and millions more affected, anyone know how to petition the government to make these things illegal? It is time!

  30. Angie Sonnenberg

    This is the exact same thing that happens with my 6 year old son. And the antibiotic thing makes me crazy! I spent hours a few weeks ago calling pharmacies to get a white liquid antibiotic. Thankfully he can swallow pills and one pharmacist suggested that. Thankfully it was white. We’ve avoided dyes for almost 2 years now but just ran into a problem at school today which caused me to start googling. Apparently I also need to list food dyes as an allergy on his school information. Thanks for your post. I think lots of parents don’t truly understand what he goes through when he ingests the dyes. He hates the way it makes him feel as much as I hate seeing him like that.

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