3 Things You Should Know About Food Colorings

How much do you know about the safety regulations governing food colorings and preservatives? Here are a few facts about the things that color our food.

By Reader's Digest Editors
3 Things You Should Know About Food Colorings© iStockphoto/Thinkstock

How much do you know about the safety regulations governing food colorings and preservatives? Here are a few facts about the things that color our food.

1. Food colorings are safe, but nothing is absolute. “There is no such thing as absolute safety of any substance,” says Linda Katz, M.D., M.P.H., Director of the Office of Cosmetics and Colors at the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN). “In the case of a new color additive, FDA determines if there is ‘a reasonable certainty of no harm’ under the color additive’s proposed conditions of use.”

2. No color additives have been approved for injection into the skin
“Tattoo parlors often claim that the pigments in their inks are “FDA-approved.” No color additives are approved for permanent makeup (a form of tattooing). And henna is approved for use on the hair, but not the skin.”

3. Hives? Check your additive list. “FD&C Yellow No. 5 may cause itching and hives in some people. This color additive is widely found in beverages, desserts, processed vegetables, drugs, makeup, and other products.” The law requires Yellow No. 5 to be clearly identified so if you experience a reaction to a food, check the label.

Learn more about what goes into your food at fda.gov.

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