Petroleum is the yellow liquid that is mined from the earth to produce gasoline and motor oil. It’s also refined and used in many food products that line american grocery shelves, most of these being marketed towards children.
These by-products are often consumed in the form of bright food coloring, flavoring and preservatives in processed snacks. Yellow dye #5 and red dye #40 are well-known variations.
Currently, The FDA isn’t concerned about the petroleum products used in American food, but may of these are outlawed in other countries because they pose serious health risks.
In fact, artificial food dye have caused the following effects in recent studies (1):
- Allergic reactions
- Chromosomal damage
- Organ damage
- Birth defects
Food dyes can also contain unexpected and unknown impurities. In fact, these substances are so toxic that the British government and European Union have ended the use of dyes in food throughout Europe since 2009 and 2010, respectively.
Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 account roughly for 90% of the dyes used in foods (2).
Even some fresh oranges are dipped in dye to brighten them and provide uniform color, says Michael Jacobson, executive director at CSPI.
Red 40 has been proven to cause immune-system tumors in mice and allergic and hyperactive reactions in children.
Yellow 5 has the same effects but contains multiple carcinogenic substances and has been linked to organ damage.
Yellow 6 was found to cause adrenal tumors in animals as well as hypersensitivity in children.
Here’s a list of popular children’s foods you’ll want to avoid:
1. Pop Tarts
According to the nutritional information available on the Kellogg website, The most popular flavor, frosted strawberry, contains many harmful ingredients.
For starters, the snacks have corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, dextrose and sugar within the first 7 ingredients. These sugary products has all been linked to childhood diabetes, sugar addiction and liver problems.
The treats also contain TBHQ, a petroleum based-product which damages human DNA and causes cellular dysfunction (4).
It’s also know to cause tumours, vision loss, liver enlargement, neurotoxic effects, convulsions, and paralysis in laboratory animals (5).
2. Fruit Snacks
Many fruit-based snacks that market themselves as healthy options, like jam-filled cereal bars for example, are loaded with food coloring to make them more appealing (6).
Red 3 is commonly used, which is worrisome since it’s been banned from cosmetic products for causing thyroid tumors.
3. M & Ms
Alongside red 40, yellow 6 and yellow 5, these chocolates are often colored by using blue 2, which is known to cause tumors in the brain and bladder, as well as blue 1, which inhibits the development of nerve cells.
These orange snacks are not only colored with yellow 6, they also contain an artificial flavoring mix of other highly toxic substances.
The “Flamin’ Hot” variety was even reported to cause abdominal distress, gastritis and addiction-like dependency in children and adults (7).
5. Teddy Grams
These seemingly harmless snacks are often laced with TBHQ, which is bad for the same reasons mentioned previously, as well as nausea, vomiting, delirium, anxiety and stomach cancer (8).
Thankfully, you can replace these snack with all-natural and organic products (that are either store-bought or homemade) as well as fresh fruits and vegetables in appropriately-sized portions.
These options are much more filling and nutritious than the ones on this list.
If you’re concerned about your child’s exposure to dyes, make sure to read the labels on household products such as vitamins, cough syrup, toothpaste, shampoo, laundry detergent and hand cream (9). These products often contain similarly toxic dyes.