Friday, July 6, 2012

Yellow No. 5 - July 6th, 2012
Unfounded rumors about artificial food additives being unsafe are typically harmless, because consumers can't hurt themselves by cutting back on a chemical that is devoid of nutritional value. But in the case of the synthetic food dye tartrazine, better known in the United States as Yellow No. 5, one rumor became more dangerous than the additive itself. Meanwhile, consumers overlooked another, more insidious, potential side effect of the chemical.

In the late 1990s, fast-paced youngsters turned to a caffeinated beverage easily distinguished from the coffee of their parents' generation: Mountain Dew. This soda, which packed a caffeine wallop half again as potent as Coke or Pepsi, was bubbly, fruity, and most importantly, neon yellow.

The rumor that swirled round Mountain Dew came in different shapes and sizes, but the upshot was always the same: Yellow No. 5, the dye responsible for the Dew's unnatural hue, affected men in a bad way. Some claimed it shrunk or shriveled masculine body parts, but for the most part it was said that tartrazine laid waste to a man's sperm count.

At the time, there was no scientific evidence to support the urban legend, nor was there any reason the myth focused so exclusively on Mountain Dew —tartrazine could be found in comparable concentrations in foods and drinks ranging from pickles to marshmallow Peeps to macaroni and cheese. But some people cut back on their consumption of the soda anyway, worried about its effect on their reproductive health.

But others banked on the rumors being true: they doubled down on the Dew, thinking it would function as a contraceptive.

1 comment:

SusannahSimone said...

Thanks for the information. Keep it coming. I just can't see why anyone would want to expose their kids to any unnecessary chemicals. Artificial colors are added to make unhealthy foods appear more nutritious.

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