True colors of food dyes unknown

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Because numerous reports cite concerns about the use of the food dyes Red No. 40 and Yellow No. 5, Nestlé USA’s announcement in February 2015 could be taken as one notable benefit to consumers. However, that conclusion seemingly isn’t warranted. Two experts tell Consumers Digest that the science behind color additives is inconclusive.

By the end of 2015, Nestlé will remove color additives (and artificial flavors) that are approved by Food and Drug Administration from all of its chocolate candy products. Nestlé isn’t the only company to remove food dyes.

Since January 2014, Kraft has used colors that are derived from spices for its special-shapes Macaroni & Cheese products, says Lynne Galia of Kraft.

Rene Ficek, who is a dietitian and lead nutrition expert at Seattle Sutton’s Healthy Eating, adds that some studies on Yellow No. 5 show a connection between the food dye and anxiety, cancer, hyperactivity and migraines.

However, Marion Nestle, who is a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University, says that, although Red No. 40 and Yellow No. 5 have been associated with health problems in animals, testing these substances on humans is difficult, and research studies produce conflicting results.

—K. Fejklowicz