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How food dyes affect kids; which foods have the most

Posted at 5:57 AM, Feb 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-05 05:57:46-05

GRAND RAPIDS,  Mich. -- Research shows millions of Americans deal with food allergies and food sensitivities every day, and recently food dye concerns have become a part of the discussion. Many of us are becoming more aware of exactly what is in our food breaking down every single ingredient including food dyes.

Ted Kelbel, chief pediatric allergist at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital, wants parents to be aware there are more than a half-dozen synthetic food  dyes being used in our foods and are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

"It probably won’t be a life-threatening reaction, so if there’s a little (dye) in, say, a medication or small amount of food, a patient can generally tolerate that and do okay,” Kelbel said. “They just might not want to eat the Big Gulp that has tons and tons of it in there.”

Here is a list of some of the food dye used in our foods, according to the American Chemical Society:

The FDA does regulate how food dyes are used, and sellers are required to list every ingredient on each nutrition label.

Reactions to food dyes are seen as a food intolerance, not an allergy, but symptoms include upset stomach and headache. Dyes are generally used in highly processed and extremely sugary foods, which you should be limiting anyway.

"There’s a lot of conservancy out there, and the bottom line is the research is inadequate," said Mary Cummings, a registered dietitian who works for Grand Valley State University's campus dining. “Now the FDA as really studied the research for safety and will continue to study it and evolve their research. But as of now, (food dyes) are generally recognized as safe. Food dye intolerance is something that affects some kids, but not all.”

Parents are encouraged to try and figure out what foods bother your kids by keeping a journal and tracking what foods give them different symptoms.

Health experts also recommend a well-balanced diet with all the major food groups.