Magically Nutritious Food Colorings

Holidays are so fun. Growing up, my mom always had a few special tricks for each one. For St. Patrick's Day, we ALWAYS had green mashed potatoes, green milk, and green rice crispy treats. It made the day ✨magical✨

How did we have green potatoes, you ask? Food coloring, of course!

Just a few drops and your typical dinner offerings are made into something entirely new and exciting.

But...have you ever asked yourself what food dye actually is? Is there a better way to give our favorite little ones all the fun of brightly colored treats?

What is food coloring?

First of all- food colorings are deemed safe for consumption by the FDA. Most of them are synthetic, but even natural ones are held to the same standards.

Food dyes are made with water, propylene glycol (used as a solvent to provide brighter color,) FDA-certified color additives (think BLUE 1 and RED 40,) and propylparaben (preservative).

The main difference between natural and synthetic colorings at the store is that "natural" food dyes use ingredients derived from fruit, vegetable, vitamin/mineral, or animal sources. They will still contain the preservatives and solvent, may impart some flavor on your product, and are typically more expensive.

What does "safe" mean?

Put simply, it's defined as "reasonable certainty of no harm to consumers"

The main problem here is that we know that each person is uniquely individual, and "safe standards" are measured against a group of healthy individuals, and no specific guidelines are given for people with allergies, sensitivities, or chronic conditions.

What has changed is that now each ingredient has to be listed on ingredient labels.

I'm not sure about you, but until I went looking, I was never informed that there is "inconsistent data" on wether or not food colorings trigger childhood hyperactivity or that people with sensitivities to specific colorings may experience hives or induced asthma attacks.

So, when we see those colors listed on our ingredients label, it means nothing to us. That education piece is ever so conveniently forgotten about.

The short truth is that we cannot do better if we do not know better. So why isn't this information more widely shared?