About Food Coloring Allergy Symptoms

Written by dawn r. levesque
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About Food Coloring Allergy Symptoms
(James Brey iStockphoto)

Food colouring, both in packaged food and that served in restaurants, serves several purposes. Color makes food more attractive and appealing. It functions as a marker to identify certain foods, drinks and candies, such as lollipops and Popsicles. Though rare, food colouring can cause adverse allergic reactions in both children and adults, especially those allergic to aspirin.

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Food colourants include FD&C Yellow No.5 (tartrazine), carmine, annatto, Yellow No. 6 (Sunset Yellow), Red No. 2 (amaranth) and Blue Dye No.1 (brilliant blue FCF). Food colouring can be either natural or synthetic.


Certifiable colour additives are available for use in food in two forms, "dyes" which dissolve in water or "lakes," a water-soluble formula of the dye. Red Dye No.2 is the most widely recognised.


Due to U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations, ingredient labels contain listing of food colouring used. Wording may include food colour added, artificial flavour and natural colour.


Colouring can cause hives, itching of skin, flushing, muscle and joint aches, fatigue and trigger asthma. Moderate reactions include weakness, behaviour and mood changes, migraines and attribute to Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). It can also cause anaphylaxis.


If an allergic reaction occurs only with prepared food or when eating in restaurants, see a doctor or a board-certified allergist. Keep a food diary. Write down the foods that may have caused a reaction.


Avoid prepared cereals, gelatin, puddings, bakery goods, fruit drinks and sodas. Consider the Feingold diet, which is a dietary approach to limit the amount of additives and preservatives in a person's diet.

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