Friday, April 10, 2009

food dyes and bugs

I've had some recent emails and comments about dyes made from bugs. I don't think my kids have a problem with the bug dyes. These are different than the numbered dyes that I avoid. I avoid the chemical dyes commonly called red #40, yellow #5, yellow #6 and blue #1. My understanding is that the numbered dyes are manufactured from petroleum. They are synthetic chemicals that do not commonly occur in nature. Thus, our bodies are not well equipped to digest them. I've seen repeated references to artificial colorings being neurotoxins that excite the brain (not in a good way). While they are very prevalent in food marketed to children, research shows more and more that they cause increased behavior problems.

The bug dyes, on the other hand, are made from ground up bug parts, which is considered a natural product. They are referred to as carmine, or chochineal. They come from the chochineal beetle. Here is link to an article about the differences in bug dyes and artificial dyes that explains it better. Allergies to carmine are not as common, but I've seen many discussions of more life threatening problems to carmine such as anaphalatic shock.

I guess the bottom line is still the same, know what you are eating and know how it makes you react.

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