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August 2009 Issue

Are Artificial Food Colors to Dye For? EN Sheds Light on A Colorful Topic

In the mid-19th century, foods were colored with metals, which ended up making people sick. So the Food and Drug Act of 1906 came along and reduced from 80 to seven the number of synthetic food dyes allowed in processed foods. The fact is, synthetic food colors are unnecessary for food production, since their function is cosmetic. As highly processed foods become exposed to high temperature, light and moisture, they lose their color. Synthetic dyes can offset this color loss, as well as provide color to foods that otherwise have no color (think mint ice cream), make food more attractive (like sprinkles) and enhance the natural color of foods (as in the case of sprayed oranges).

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