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The dangers of artificial food colors

The dangers of artificial food colors

Food color is a substance that is added to food or drink to change its color. It is an important constituent. When we think of an apple, our mind shows a nice picture of red color, grapes are also associated with blue or green color. The addition of color to food gives an attractive and appetizing appearance and also enhances its acceptability.

Ancient people used natural ingredients like saffron and turmeric to give a deep orange or yellow color to various foods. Other natural foods such as carrots, grapes, spinach, tomatoes were also used as coloring agents.

With the advent of food technology, we now have a wide range of artificial food colors as additives. They are manufactured chemically and are most commonly used in pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries besides the food industry. Some of the chemicals used may not be under permissible values and hence make the entire food color unsafe.

So what are the advantages and the disadvantages of these? This is something that you probably have not given a thought to. The only advantage of the food color is to make the food look more appetizing.

The disadvantages of using artificial food coloring seem to outweigh the advantages.

  • They can destroy the nutrients in the food because of their chemical composition.
  • They may increase hyperactive behavior in some children. Chemicals linked to hyperactivity include sodium benzoate, red food dye and various yellow food dyes.
  • They can also cause skin irritation and eczema, a type of skin rash, etc.
  • Artificial food colors can also cause intestinal upset and breathing problems.
  • They are carcinogenic and can cause cancer as some food colors are also associated with the production of carcinogenic compounds while getting metabolized.

Hence, Go Natural!!! Natural colorants are extracted from natural herbs and plant parts. For example, kokum, beetroot and safflower form a very large source of natural coloring agents. The usage of food colors is not bad, but the right use of the right color is of utmost importance.

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