Yellow 5 is primarily used as a food dye. If you happen to read any food labels, you can see that Yellow 5 is used in many foods such as candy, potato chips, bagels, drinks, jams, and pet food. But is Yellow 5 bad for you?
Is Yellow 5 Bad For You?
The short answer is yes, Yellow 5 is bad for you.
Yellow 5 is an artificial food colorant. It is also called E102 or tartrazine. Like many other food colorants, Yellow 5 is believed to be linked to a variety of health problems and concerns.
Some countries, such as Austria and Norway, have banned it. The United Kingdom has opted to phase out use of the chemical, and the EU has strict rules requiring companies to label products with warnings about the health effects of Yellow 5. One can only assume that they have a more than solid foundation to do so, and this makes it all the more worrying that the United States has not only failed to ban it but does not even require manufacturers to list the specific dye on product labels.
Manufacturers who use Yellow 5 and other food colorants, such as processed food companies, vitamin manufacturers, and manufacturers of shampoos and other personal care products, continue to strongly pressure the FDA not to intensely study and scrutinize the components of Yellow 5, worried that a ban or even any sort of restriction will eat into their profits. As a result, it is up to the American consumer to do be especially wary about what they consume if they want to protect and optimize their health.
In What Kinds of Products is Yellow 5 Found?
Yellow 5 is found in a wide variety of products, including drinks, chips, jams, candy, burger mixes, pasta, cheese-flavored snacks, potato chips, pet food, shampoo, cosmetic products, medicines, and vitamins.
Why is it added when there are so many health concerns? Mainly for marketing purposes. Manufacturers know that consumers are generally much more likely to purchase a product that is colorful and appealing to the eye. Many of the products that contain artificial colors also have other unhealthy ingredients, and are often best avoided in any case. This applies to most processed foods.
What Are Yellow 5’s Health Effects?
It is believed that Yellow 5 contains chemicals that have a carcinogenic effect on the human body: this means that they might be linked to the development of cancer. It is also thought that it could reduce human sperm count, and have many effects on children, such as worsening of both asthma and ADHD symptoms.
In sensitive people, it may also cause problems such as anxiety, blurred vision, fatigue, and migraine.
Other food colorants such as Yellow 6 and Red 40, like Yellow 5, contain compounds like 4-aminobiphenyl and benzidine that have been linked to cancer in human beings.
Yellow 5 also causes the body to lose zinc. This is detrimental, as zinc is necessary for many crucial body processes, including, for example, those connected to bone strength and function of the immune system, cognitive function, and thyroid function.
Later in this article, you will find that we discuss foods you can add to your diet to boost your level of daily zinc intake. If you decide to take a zinc supplement, make absolutely certain that it does not contain Yellow 5 itself! Some vitamin manufacturers add artificial color to their products, to make them more attractive to the eye.
How to Avoid Artificial Food Colorants
In order to avoid artificial food colorants, read the package labels and ingredients lists of products before purchasing. Avoid buying products because you are attracted to the bright color. Bright colors most often mean that artificial food colorants have been used. Generally, cutting down on the amount of processed foods in your diet will also help you reduce your intake of food colorants.
Never use artificial food coloring when you cook or bake at home. Do some research on natural alternatives you can use instead to help make your meals or baked goods more colorful if desired.
Here are some examples of natural alternatives to artificial food colorants:
Yellow or orange: Saffron, turmeric, puree mango, puree or juiced carrot, yellow curry, golden beets (juice or puree).
Green: Green tea powder, basil (puree), avocado (mashed), mint (puree) spinach (puree)
Purple or blue: Red grape juice, blueberries (puree)
Pink or red: Paprika, roasted red peppers, beets (juice or puree), raspberries (puree), strawberries (puree), pomegranate juice, cranberry juice
One of the most significant foods you should avoid if you want to cut down on your intake of artificial food coloring is candy. Candy, with its vibrant, bright colors, is notoriously high in artificial food color, including ones like Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Red 40, Red 3, and Blue
Also try to reduce your intake of foods like packaged macaroni and cheese, potato chips, and drinks.
How to Increase the Amount of Zinc in Your Daily Diet
Zinc is an essential mineral that the body needs in order to function properly. Increasing your intake of zinc through your diet or by taking supplements can help to counteract Yellow 5’s effect of depleting the level of this mineral in the body.
If you decide to take a zinc supplement, make sure that it does not contain Yellow 5! It’s hard to believe but some manufacturers add artificial colors to their vitamin and supplement products.
Increase the amount of zinc in your diet by eating more zinc-rich foods. Here are some examples of such foods below:
Pork chop (2.9 mg of zinc in 3 ounces)
Oatmeal (1.1 mg of zinc in one serving)
Cashews (1.6 mg of zinc in 1 ounce)
Almonds (0.9 mg of zinc in 1 ounce)
Oysters (32 mg of zinc in 6 raw oysters)
Fortified breakfast cereal (3.8 mg of zinc in ¾ cup)
Beef (chuck roast) (7 mg of zinc in 3 ounces)
Chickpeas (1.3 mg of zinc in ½ cup)
Kidney beans (0.9 mg of zinc in ½ cup)
Swiss cheese (1.2 mg of zinc in 1 ounce)
Chicken (2.4 mg of zinc in 3 ounces)
Lobster (3.4 mg of zinc in 3 ounces)
Crab (4.7 mg of zinc in a single can of crab meat)
What Have We Learned?
It’s an unfortunate fact that many food, vitamin and supplement, and personal care product manufacturers (especially in the United States) use potentially dangerous artificial food colorants in their products (including Yellow 5).
It is up to the consumer to take steps that will reduce the amount of food coloring in their daily diets. This is imperative, as Yellow 5 and other artificial colorants can lead to a number of different health problems and conditions, including cancer, anxiety, blurred vision, fatigue, and migraine, and can worsen the symptoms of existing ADHD and asthma (especially in children).
We have gone over natural ingredients you can use to take the place of artificial colors in your cooking and baking at home. Additionally, we have clearly explained how zinc levels in the body are negatively affected, and how you can boost your levels of zinc in your daily diet. If you follow the steps we have set out, you will be much less likely to be eat large amounts of Yellow 5 and suffer from its effects.
It’s disheartening to know that many companies care more about appealing to the consumer’s eye and selling more products (thus boosting the bottom line) than the health of the people who eat and use their products.
The fact that Yellow 5 has been banned in Austria and Norway should be enough to give them pause for thought. The dye has also been set to be phased out in the United Kingdom, and the EU has strict labeling and warning requirements. Such requirements would be a good first step in the United States. After all, an informed consumer is a healthy consumer.
“Health Effects of Yellow 5 Food Coloring”, http://www.livestrong.com/article/370945-health-effects-of-yellow-5-food-coloring/
“The Dangers of Yellow Dye 5”, http://theorganicdiabetic.org/2014/12/the-dangers-of-yellow-5-dye
“Living in Color: The Potential Dangers of Artificial Dyes”, https://www.forbes.com/sites/rachelhennessey/2012/08/27/living-in-color-the-potential-dangers-of-artificial-dyes/#4c5d07da107a
“5 Ways to Avoid Artificial Food Dyes”, https://blog.honest.com/5-ways-to-avoid-risky-artificial-food-dyes/#
“Foods High in Zinc”, http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20929453,00.html