It’s a highly controversial topic and one with constantly mixed results. While some say food colorings are bad others say they are perfectly safe. Those who claim them to be bad for human consumption say the colored chemicals used in foods are responsible for everything from hyperactivity to cancer and allergies.
While it was once true that food colorings were toxic (since they were made from coal tar), they are now made from petroleum. Foods that contain artificial coloring are generally foods aimed at children. While candy is one of the most artificially colored foods, others like beverages, fish (salmon) and medication are also colored for enhancement.
Reports say over the past 50 years, the use of food coloring to enhance edible products has increased 500 percent with children being the biggest consumers.
One of the big issues are governing regulatory agencies. While the one will pass a coloring for consumer use deeming it safe, another will not. The US Food and Drug Administration and the the European Food Safety Authority are the two main bodies who regulate the colorings used in foods.
Over the years, hundreds of colors have been developed for food use, however, through toxicity testing on animals, most have been found unsafe. Nowadays, food manufacturers prefer to use fake food dyes over natural colorings such as beet extract and beta carotene because the fake colors are more vibrant.
So, does this high level of vibrancy make them toxic? The truth is no one will say for sure. Again, it goes back to the regulatory bodies who pass some and ban others, however, the US FDA says that the coloring additives in foods “are safe when used in accordance with with FDA regulations”.
On the other hand, a 2016 report by the Center for Science in the Public Interest says otherwise. The Cleveland Clinic also details some study results that show tumor growth and behavioral issues in kids due to consuming artificially colored foods.