We discovered my daughter was allergic to Red Dye #40 when she was 7 years old. It caused rashes, and mood changes immediately. Since most of her life she has eaten organic food I have let my vigilance over Red Dye seriously slide. As she has gotten older we have incorporated non-organic foods that we THOUGHT were healthy choices.
My husband added morningstar bacon to an omelet and I noticed the eggs were running red. So I went to the freezer and much to my dismay, half of the MorningStar products had dyes. Since her gallbladder removal we have also added some common food products that most American’s buy with not a bat of the eye. Eggo waffles with blueberries. If you have had your gallbladder removed, you know that when you find something that does not upset your stomach, you don’t veer far away without fear of stirring up the gut. I NEVER in a million years would have guessed those Eggo blueberries were really just Blue Dye and Red 40. One food product after another was tossed until the garbage can was full of wasted money. Before you think to lecture me on donating food….yeah…hindsight is great…in the moment I just thought about how I was unknowingly poisoning my daughter and in my defense I can’t drive anyway, have few friends who would eat this, etc. Ok that point is moot.Food went into the garbage.
This morning I woke up, and researched Red Dye #40. I had never really spent much time in the “why” I just knew my daughter was allergic. To my surprise, that dye is banned in other countries. Further investigation led me to a website with a listing of all things with red dye. Duncan hines WHITE FROSTING!!!!!!! Every year for her birthday we order a cake from our local grocery store with white frosting. White frosting HAD to be safe from ruining her birthday with an allergic reaction. But no. My daughter always has had random rashes throughout her life. Food companies are major contributors to this.
Why do we REALLY need this dye? Studies proved that American’s are “visual” and only want bright colors? Or did they trick Americans into thinking vibrant meant better and realized that the foods they added color to, we bought more of? I feel tricked. Parents think by not buying M&M’s or Skittles, with all of the obvious dyes, then they are protecting their children from the possiblility of ill health affects. We’ve all been duped. Those pink allergy medications, your pink tylenol, liquid children’s benadryl, just to name a few ALL have red 40 in them. Red dye #40 was removed from products in other countries for a REASON.
If another country has done studies and decided that for the health of their people, they will remove these dyes, why on earth is America falling behind? This isn’t a controversial vaccine conversation. It isn’t a GMO or a pesticide or even organic food debate. It is food dye! We don’t need it. It is not necessary! Yet it is slipped into our food without our knowledge. Part of it is my fault, for not reading labels, and assuming something white could have red dye in it, and assuming that a “healthy” food manufacturer wouldn’t have red dye in it.
Parenting is hard enough as it is. We’ve got to make choices on our kid’s education, do we let them spend the night with their friend, are they safe on this or that, and with her or him. Tossing in Red dye just seems like an avoidable worry doesn’t it? Don’t even get me started on the clothing made by child labor in other countries! It can be overwhelming to parent in a mindful way. It can be overwhelming to parent period. Here we are trying to listen, give compassion, set boundaries, give our child a voice, teach them safety. Red dye is the last thing I need to be worried about. So for now, reading labels will be my past time and hopefully I won’t have to raid the fridge/freezer again and throw half of it away again to protect my daughter from another allergic reaction.