Blog #3, Research Round 1, Should Food Manufactures Use Food Colouring to Attract Young Children?

Did you know that Americans are eating 5 times more food colouring now than they did in 1955? Food colourings are seen everywhere from breakfast foods to desserts. In our modern world, it is almost impossible to avoid the hideous trap of these harmful food additives.

In this round of research, I will look into the effects of food colouring on children and adults and how companies manipulate kids into craving for these unhealthy products.

When you are watching your favourite TV show, do you remember coming across a flashy advertisement of cute cartoon characters dancing to colourful candies and cereals? (1) One study from Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity discovers that the cereal marketed toward kids has more harmful food colourings, 85 percent more sugar, 65 percent less fibre, and 60 percent more sodium than “adult cereals”. Cereal companies spend about $156 million each year on advertisements for kid-friendly TV shows. So you might be wondering, why do they even bother to spend this much money on advertisements? The answer is that it simply works. With the average child seeing 40,000 commercials a year, mostly on colourful high fat and calorie foods, the effect is magical.

So what exactly are the types of food colouring that you should watch out for? Some of the most common and harmful food colourings found in foods are (2) Red #40, #3, Yellow #5, #6, Green #3, as well as Blue #1, and #2. (3) Looking into a real-life example, a Kellogg’s Double Berry Pop-Tart (picture above) contains many of these food colourings including Red #40, Blue #2, Yellow #6, and Blue #1. Unfortunately, you aren’t able to see these numbers since the average ingredients label omits the specific types of dyes. If you see “natural and artificial colours” in the ingredients list, the chances are that you’re better off avoiding the food item because it is almost certain that it’ll contain one of these colours.

What are the health effects of food colourings? For example, I will discuss the health effects of Red #40 which is the most widely used and consumed food dye. (2) This dye can cause:

1- Chromosomal damage

  • Errors during dividing of sex cells (meiosis)

  • Errors during dividing of other cells (mitosis)

  • Exposure to substances that cause birth defects (teratogens)

2- Hyperactivity

  • The state of being unusually and abnormally active.

3- Lymphomas

  • Lymphomas is the cancer of the Lymphatic system.
  • Lymphatic is the body’s germ-fighting network.

United Kingdom’s Food Standards Agency

Children with a developing nervous system (collection of nerves and neurons that transmit signals around the body) are especially at greater risk for any neurobehavioral (the way the brain affects emotion, behaviour, and learning) effects of the food colourings. (5)There was a study at the United Kingdom’s Food Standards Agency in 2007 that links food dyes to a children’s hyperactivity. It was a study of nearly 300 children at the age of 3, 8, and 9. Children were given different types of drinks and were asses by their parents and teachers on their behaviours. One drink contained Sunset yellow (E110), Carmoisine (E122), Tartrazine (E102), and Ponceau 4R (E124). Researchers found that the hyperactivity increased in all of the children. This study showed an adverse effect of food colouring on children.

I hope you learned something new today! In research round #2, I will look into avoiding food colouring as customers and what manufacturers can use to replace these unhealthy additives. Please leave some comments with your opinions and suggestions. Stay away from food dyes and see you in the next blog!







4 Replies to “Blog #3, Research Round 1, Should Food Manufactures Use Food Colouring to Attract Young Children?”

  1. Dear Lucas,

    I really enjoy your first round of research! I greatly enjoyed how you had build-up to your statements, then concluded with supportive evidence. Your inquiry project will take an application we see at the surface level, to its underlying effects. I am always intrigued by these fascinating reads! Here are some articles I hope can support you!:

    Best Regards,


  2. Hi Lucas! I really enjoyed reading your post! I definitely have learned a lot about food colouring just through reading your first round of research! I am looking forward to reading your second and third round of research!
    I found three articles that may help you in your second round of research:
    I hope these will help you in some way!

  3. Hello Lucas,

    Amazing research specially as your first round. It was very interesting to read your topic and I did learn more Informations about food colouring than I did before.

    Did your opinions/ interest in food colouring changed or decreased while doing the research?

    Thank you,

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