Colorful Carcinogens: Why We Should Ban Food Dyes

In case you aren't already suspicious of Red 40 and Blue 2, a new report by the Center for Science in the Public Interest will give you reason to be. The organization argues that artificial dyes pose "A Rainbow of Risks." Cameron Scott summarizes the report on the website of the San Francisco Chronicle:

Evidence suggests, but does not prove, that Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Red 40, and Yellow 6 cause cancer in animals. The three most widely used dyes -- Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 -- are contaminated with known carcinogens.

The granddaddy of them all, Red 3, is recognized by the Food and Drug Administration as a carcinogen. The law requires it to be illegal, but pressure from Ronald Reagan's Secretary of Agriculture, John R. Block, scuttled the required ban. About 200,000 pounds annually of Red 3 go into foods including Betty Crocker's Fruit Roll-Ups and ConAgra's Kid Cuisine frozen meals.

Read the full story at SFGate.com.

Presented by

Daniel Fromson, a former associate editor at The Atlantic, is a writer based in Washington, D.C. He writes regularly for The Washington Post. His work has also appeared in Harper's Magazine, New York, and Slate.

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