Artificial Colors: Risks

colorantes artificiales: Riesgos

Food colors are used in various industries in order to highlight and preserve the pictorial and aesthetic properties of foods, which are a very important part of consumer decision making.

However, it is necessary to be able to discern and recognize between the various variants of colors on the market. On the one hand, we find natural dyes, of vegetable or animal origin that do not have major effects on health, and that, even in many cases, can be beneficial. On the other hand, there are synthetic dyes that are composed of artificial materials and go through a severe chemical process, which can cause health problems in adults, and various changes in children’s behavior.

Dyes such as Red 40 (allura), Tartrazine, Sodium Benzoate, Carmoisin or Amaranth are some of the most commonly known synthetics used as color additives in the food industries. To this day, many companies prefer to use them because of their low price compared to natural colors, as they come from natural raw materials and go through a less chemical process, they are more expensive but also healthier.

The CSPI (Center for Science in the Public Interest), published a report entitled “Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks” in which they explained the various disadvantages and allergic reactions that these can have in our body. Many results showed that there is a strong relationship between the consumption of these dyes and cancer problems in such consumers. Likewise, other studies in the University of Princeton, discovered that these synthetic additives have great changes in the behavior of the children, which go from hyperactivity and hypertension to deficit of concentration and low academic performances.

Due to today’s awareness of health and the foods we eat, natural dyes are gaining ground over artificial ones, however, there are still many industries, such as candy and sweets that use them a lot. These trends for health will eventually prevail and provide the consumer with products that are healthier and with less risk to future problems.

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