My son had ear infections this past winter and was home sick. To keep him hydrated I was giving him Gatorade. A half-hour passed and I noticed considerable facial swelling. I rushed him to the emergency room to ensure he was not going into anaphylactic shock and was properly diagnosed. The doctor felt that he had a bug bite and provided him Benadryl to decrease the swelling. As a good sport, he was given a red Popsicle. The swelling persisted but finally went away after a few days. Flash forward to this summer. After my son’s baseball game a parent handed out snacks. My son enjoyed his bag of chips and Kool-Aid drink box but within 15 minutes, his whole face began to swell drastically. At this point I began to do research and found a common thread. Food dye was used in Gatorade, Doritos, Kool-Aid and popsicles and it appeared that my son has developed an allergy. We were enjoying lunch a while later and we gave my son Sprite thinking what harm could come from a crystal clear product. Within 15 minutes another allergic reaction developed. We provided him Benadryl to no relief. After research we found that blue food dye is used in Sprite and that red food dye is used in Benadryl. We purchased and administered dye-free Benadryl and the issue went away. I was clearly convinced this was the culprit. We saw an allergist and she tested him by giving him a red lollipop that was labeled with Red #40 food dye. Like clockwork, the symptoms appeared.
I researched and feel like an expert regarding food dyes. I found that these are actually banned overseas and Red Dye #40 is directly linked to hyperactivity in children. Items that you would not think would contain dye actually do. Many cheaper chocolate products use red dye to make their items look richer. Toothpaste manufacturers use it for coloring their products. Who would think a clear product like Sprite would contain blue dye. Most medication for children contains food dye. Shampoo and body wash also.
I found that some food manufacturers have moved away from these ingredients and are using more healthy alternatives. Goldfish crackers are now using watermelon and beet juice to color items red. Some children yogurt products have taken this same approach. Most medicines offer a dye-free alternative.
The positive side effect is that after reading the labels for processed foods my family has cut them out of our diets drastically. Along with dyes, a grocery store cake should not have over 40 ingredients that you cannot pronounce. This really began me thinking about processed foods contributing to the rising cancer rate in America but that’s another post.