Thursday, October 13, 2011

Hidden Sources of Food Coloring Chemicals in Your Diet

The toxicity potential of synthetic food colors is complex and controversial. Color additives are mostly used to make high-calorie, low-nutrition foods appear healthy. Many, including Dr. Alexander Weil, claim those additives are toxic or carcinogenic. They usually show up on labels with the color and a code number.

Some food color additives, such as caramel and carmine, have less bad press. But there is enough bad press overall to force more color additive manufacturers into using natural plant extracts instead of synthetic chemicals.

Caramel, the grandfather of food coloring, is the most ubiquitous. It's what makes colas brown, like Pepsi, Coca-Cola and others. It's in almost any brown liquid including whiskey, brown gravies, many soy sauces, and most balsamic vinegars. It's also used in many junk food items from cookies to potato chips. It's created by caramelizing (burning) sugar.

Any food burnt or charred can be carcinogenic due to acrylamide content. The FDA acknowledges the toxic potential of acrylamide in large doses, but considers caramel's acrylamide content insignificant.

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