Fanta orange soda is dyed there with pumpkin and carrot extract while the U.S. version is dyed with Red 40 and Yellow 6; Kellogg Strawberry NutriGrain bars are colored with Red 40, Yellow 6 and Blue 1 in the U.S., but with beetroot, annatto and paprika extract in the U.K.; and McDonald’s Strawberry Sundaes are colored with strawberries in Britain but with Red dye 40 in America.
Let’s mention here for full disclosure that the British government requested that companies stop using most dyes by December 2009. Meanwhile, most dyed foods marketed throughout the European Union are required to bear a warning notice, effective since July 2010.
In this business-friendly land known as the United States of America, consumers are left with the fine option to educate themselves in order to make the right choices. A couple of suggestions come to mind: at home, preemptively check out this list to find out which of your favorite packaged foods contain artificial colorings; at the supermarket, carefully dissect food labels since the FDA requires that dyes be listed on all processed foods; or stay away from processed foods altogether, especially those that are marketed to children.
Needless to say, banning some old favorites may involve a struggle of sorts with children who are ceasessly bombarded by food ads designed just for them, and over 40 percent of which promote junk food (candy, snack, fast food), with at least one common denominator: synthetic food colorings.