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The Viewer

Mounds View High School's student news site.

The Viewer

Mounds View High School's student news site.

The Viewer

Mounds View High School's student news site.

The Viewer

[OPINION] Red dye 40: toxic or tame?

Red dye 40 has taken the internet by storm, with news outlets claiming it causes widespread behavioral disorders in children. However, the media has exaggerated these effects to a nonfactual level.
Many+consumers%2C+especially+parents%2C+have+begun+to+avoid+products+with+red+dye+40+because+of+media+exaggeration.
Lale Baylar
Many consumers, especially parents, have begun to avoid products with red dye 40 because of media exaggeration.

Red Dye 40 is a synthetic food dye found in many products in the aisles of a grocery store, ranging from drinks and snacks to packaged fruit products. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved its use in 1971 and ruled that it is safe for public consumption, but with recent studies linking Red Dye 40 to behavioral issues in children, some consumers are starting to avoid it at all costs by analyzing the labels of products for evidence of Red Dye 40. TikTok videos of creators going into stores and pointing out all the items with Red Dye 40 also further this developing phobia, but are these claims warranted?

According to a study conducted by Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, restriction diets, which cut out products with dyes, have been shown to reduce ADHD symptoms in some children. Another study conducted on mice by the National Institute of Health showed that Red Dye 40 can damage DNA, which negatively affects the gut and colon of the mice. However, these studies do not provide concrete evidence on how harmful the red dye is to humans specifically, especially since we cannot conduct the needed tests on humans without raising ethical concerns. This leaves the decision to consume Red Dye 40 up to consumers, many of whom look for dyeless products on shelves.

Its heavy use in the food industry also raises concerns from parents. When I was younger, I remember my mom being worried about all food dyes in general and would not buy products with bright colors. Also when baking at home, she strictly avoided using food dyes in cake or cupcake frostings. Much like my mom, many parents started suspecting that Red Dye 40 was bad for their children’s health and, in some cases, the cause of their children’s erratic behavior. Parent testimonies from CBS and NBC news reported a decrease in child hyperactivity when food dyes were cut from children’s diets. However, the reason for this decrease could be other factors in their diet, such as sugar intake. So, one can’t clearly point to Red Dye 40 as the culprit.

When it comes to regulations, some argue the U.S. should follow other countries, such as European countries, and their cautious approach towards the use of the dye. According to Assuaged-Foundation, the dye is banned in other countries such as Switzerland and the United Kingdom due to health concerns indicated in the studies they’ve conducted. Yet, Allura Red AC, another name for Red Dye 40, is not banned in the United Kingdom and instead requires a warning label on products that contain it. Only those who care to read the labels would find these warnings helpful.

Although there is little clarity on the effect Red Dye 40 has on our health, a simple Google search yields exaggerated headlines on the links between symptoms and Red Dye 40. This could easily instill fear in readers and start connecting issues in their health with Red Dye 40. But the truth is that these are possible links, not conclusive results. So, rather than panicking, people who fear the said effects of the dye should verify the claims circulating the internet. This would surely help prevent parents from rummaging frenziedly through their groceries, trying to purge Red Dye 40 from their children’s diet. Well, at least until there are more definite findings.

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About the Contributor
Lale Baylar, Opinions Editor
Hi! My name is Lale, and I'm the Opinions editor and illustrator for the The Viewer 2023-24. I like to draw & paint as well as watch thrillers in my free time. I also enjoy trying new restaurants or baking new recipes at home. I'm in MV's Orchestra, Mustang Mentors and love volunteering at Kinderberry Hills and the Bell Museum. You can reach me by email: [email protected] :)
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