Monday, August 23, 2010

Do Color Additives Have a Place in an Allergen-Free Diet?

I recently came across an article at entitled How Safe are Color Additives? that got me thinking about food coloring in an allergen-free diet.

Dr. Linda M. Katz, Chief Medical Officer for the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, and author of the article notes that the FDA is, “committed to making sure the color additives in your food are safe.”

But are they safe for food-allergy sufferers?

Katz notes that it is possible but rare to have an allergic reaction to food coloring, but goes on to say that one in ten thousand people have a reaction to FD&C yellow No. 5.

For the record, one in ten thousand doesn’t sound so rare to me.

Looking a little deeper, I discovered that food color additives fall into two categories. There are some that are from man, animal, or mineral – in other words, natural – sources. These don’t require certification by the FDA as they are considered food. Caramel coloring is an example.

The other type of color additive is what the FDA calls “certifiable”. These are man-made, and come primarily from coal and petroleum. Ummm… I don’t think too many of us would consider this food, but the FDA certifies them as safe to be added to our food. These are the ones you see listed on food labels as FD&C followed by a color and a number.

In my house we avoid food coloring whenever possible. Sure, they might make the food look prettier, but I’d prefer to eat real food.

What’s your take on food coloring? Do you worry about them in an allergen-free diet?


Sally Parrott said...

One of my FB fans told me she admired your blog. And it's great!

There are natural food colorings when I really want to put a drop of food coloring in something (like when a friend was just dying for red velvet cake that was really red), but mostly, I think foods taste better without them. With lots of food coloring (especially the chemical kind), I can taste it, and it tastes bitter.

Plus, petroleum and coal as food? Ew.

Colette said...

Sally, glad you found me. Yes, natural is a much better choice.

Sherrie Petersen said...

For the next two months I've declared our home sugar free and mostly processed food free. I'm making all our meals, snacks and desserts from scratch and without sugar. Food coloring is just the tip of the food industry nightmare, I'm discovering...

Colette said...

Solvang, what a great idea! If you can eat without sugar and additives for two months I bet you'll feel soooo good you won't want to add them back!