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Food Colorants in toothpaste and food

7 Oct

Last week I suddenly realized I had squeezed every last morsel out of my toothpaste tube and needed something fast for my nighttime brushing.  I ran down to the closest corner market and found not a single toothpaste product that didn’t contain fluoride, so I thought, “what the hell, if I’m consuming the fluoride anyway, I’ll just go with the cheapest product”.  When I got home with my chosen brand I was shocked when I spit out my teeth brushing juices to see if colored a bright pink-red.  Much like when I eat too much cherry flavored laffy taffy, jolly ranchers or gummy worms.  But I usually brush my teeth to get rid of that color and coating, not to put it on.

I turned over the tube and realized the magic ingredients of red dye 33 & 40 which made me feel not so fresh and so clean.  I know I should have looked more closely before I bought and dashed, but what I’m wondering now is what the heck is red dye 33 & 40? Does anybody know anything about colorants out there and want to share?  I don’t know many details myself, but I definitely don’t like it in my toothpaste.

I did find out in my readings that England and the EU have passed regulations banning food dyes/colorants based on two scientific studies by the FSA (Food Standards Agency), similar to our FDA.  The FSA found significant problems with the dyes and decreed that it was the agency’s duty to put consumers first.  In general our FDA operates on a different platform; they only get involved in product regulation when something already allowed on the market raises a health and safety alarm.  In other words products don’t have to be proven safe to be sold to consumers, but they will eventually be removed from the market if people become sick or ill from and studies then prove them to be damaging,  i.e, DES & DDT.  With these regulations made by the FSA to ban food colorants from the European market place Mars, Kraft, McDonald’s, and other corporations removed all the artificial colorings from their products and replaced them with natural colorings (beets, caramel, etc). If they already have the capabilities in place overseas to make naturally colored products they can easily make it so on our shelves, but will not do so if we don’t demand it. The coloring is simply a much cheaper route, and remember the food industry is an industry, not a health department, they are in the business of making money.


Alan, Greene, M.D., Feeding Baby Green. 2009.

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