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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The colour of money....and cereal


I've been preaching about this topic for a long time- 7 years to be precise. Artificial colour additives in food.

Before I get into the news article I'm writing about, let me tell you a story about my eldest daughter Quinlin.  When Quinlin was 15 months old it was christmas time- time for getting together with friends and family, time for parties and time for lots and lots of eating. Being a cute toddling happy 15 month old, Quinlin made the rounds of the party in our home, stopping for a cuddle with her "aunty", sharing a giggle with our neighbours, and sampling the wide array of snacks that were place in easy hands reach in brightly decorated bowls: veggies and dip, cheese and crackers, and chips, cheesies, and of course the quintessential candies.  I steered her clear of the candy and put the bowls and boxes out of her grabbing range, but figured "What the hell, let her have some chips and cheesies- it's a party!" ....

When I put her to bed that night- many hours past her bed time- I got very frustrated with her as she wouldn't really nurse, didn't want to cuddle and just kept thrashing around the bed.  After almost 2 hours she finally fell asleep.  I thought "Oh, she's just over tired and over excited from the party".  4 days later we attended a similar get together at a friends house and again, my little princess held court with friends and family and made the rounds of the snack bowls.  That night, same thing again, but this time she cried and cried.  She literally was vibrating, her legs shook, her arms twitched, her eyes were wide open and her face looked almost terrified!! It scared the shit out of me.
Over the course of the holiday season we had several more episodes and I started keeping track of what she'd eaten. The only common denominator I could find was cheese- which made no sense as she ate cheese all the time and never reacted this way before... ahhhhh but they were all cheese flavoured products: cheesies, nacho chips, mac & cheese... So I pulled a bunch of wrappers and boxes out and started researching the ingredients.  They all had one ingredient in common: Tartrazine.  Also known as Yellow #5. and thus my search for tartrazine began.  It's in EVERYTHING!  Go a head.  Go take a look through your pantry at the ingredients in your store bought preprepared foods.  I guarantee that at least half of them will have it listed.  Hell! it's even in White cheddar macaroni & cheese!!!
From that moment on ALL artificial food colours were banned from our house...for the most part anyways (mommy has a small cheesie addiction that has to sated occasionally). Our youngest daughter had a slight reaction to tartrazine too, but no where near as strong, but our younger son is also very sensitive to it- he becomes almost violent and thrashes and kicks and screams.

I'm sending a copy of this article to all of our friends because I have had to defend my choice to keep my children away from these colourful poisons regularly.  Just this afternoon and friend came for a visit with his daughters and brought a big bag of gummie candies for our kids.  I looked at him and said "You KNOW they can't have these".... and he made some excuse about "oh kids have to have fun, let them have them.." and even threatened (good heartedly) to tell them so that they would bug me for some candy, and I had to put my foot down and be the big meany and say "NO!"

So to all of you out there, be a Nancy and just say "NO!"  Our childrens health is worth more than a colourful (and sometimes not so colourful!) treat. 


Is Food Dye Just a Colorful Killer?

Bright-red soda, rainbow-hued kid's cereal, electric-yellow popsicles...most of us have eaten them. But unlike the public health uproar over salt and trans fats, there hasn't been much said about the dangers of food dyes. Fed up with consumer apathy, The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is calling for a complete government ban of food dyes. The advocacy group says the three most widely used dyes -- Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 -- contain cancer-causing substances. Another dye, Red 3, has actually been identified as a carcinogen by the FDA, but you can still find it on supermarket shelves.

"These synthetic chemicals do absolutely nothing to improve the nutritional quality or safety of foods," says Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the nonprofit group. "[They] trigger behavior problems in children and, possibly, cancer in anybody."

Think you're immune to the problem because you don't gobble Fruit Loops in the morning? Think again. The dyes are in a staggering array of foods, from salad dressing to matzo balls. In fact, manufacturers put about 15 million pounds of eight synthetic dyes into the food supply each year, according to CSPI. Even scarier? Per capita consumption of dyes has risen five-fold since 1955. A lot of it has to do with the kinds of foods now marketed to children. The wilder the color, the more cash a product often brings in....

...But are the risks real? Blue 1, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 have long been known to cause allergic reactions in some people. CSPI says that while those reactions are not common, they can be serious. Numerous studies have shown that dyes can cause hyperactivity in children.

But cancer is the biggest worry. 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." The dye was never banned, however, and according to the CSPI, manufacturers use about 200,000 pounds of Red 3 every year in foods like fruit leather and frozen meals marketed to children.

Tests of Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Red 40, Yellow 5(Tartrazine), and Yellow 6 showed signs of causing cancer in lab animals, according to CSPI. Yellow 5 also caused mutations, an indication of possible carcinogenicity.

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.
HERE to read the entire article