28 answers

Red Dye #40 - Lutherville Timonium,MD

Recently I have found that my daughter has an adverse reaction to Red Dye #40. Her reaction includes hyper activity, restlessness, aggressiveness and all of the things you would tend to categorize as the "TERRIBLE TWOS."

My daughter is two and when I took the red dye out of her diet (which included fruit snacks, lollipops, doritos, cheetos, danimals yogurts and more!) she has been a much calmer and even keeled child.

My reason for writing this is one, to make others aware of this reaction...and two, to ask if anyone else has seen this in their children. The food manufacturers continue to use this dye in a lot of foods knowing the adverse reaction it has on a lot of children, but there are much safer alternatives to dying our foods which would not cause this reaction (beet juice, paprika, etc.).

If anyone has anything to share, please let me know. Thanks!

5 moms found this helpful

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Years and years ago, we discovered that the red dye in hot dogs and ketchup were causing my little sister to get migraines. (Hot dogs and ketchup were a staple of her diet at the age of seven or so!) Once any foods with dye were taken out of her diet, the migraines stopped.

Good Luck,

1 mom found this helpful

Hi S.,
My 5 yo son also gets very hyper but it is not just the red dye,it seems to be all allergy/cold medicines. Do you have any suggestions? His teachers are ready to hang him by his toes. I am desperate.

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YOU ARE RIGHT ON!!! Congrats to you for recognizing the culprit! My son, and youngest daughter have the very same reaction to this ingredient, and I have been beside myself as to why they must continue to use this when it has ABSOLUTELY NO NUTRITIONAL VALUE. I have written to General Mills & Kelloggs about cereals/cereal bars that would make great snacks for my kids--but they contain red dye or ANNATTO (watch for that ingredient too). POPs cereal & milk bar -- a YELLOW product -- contains red dye! Candy corn often has RD. Wheat Thins have RD and the lists go on and on. MOTHERS UNITE!! Lets campaign to make the manufacturers use alternative ingredients if they MUST color our food for us to eat it! It speaks poorly of our society if we can't eat a food that isn't pretty!
Aggressive, defiant, hyper behavior are common reactions to this dye. I have even heard of children who lost bladder control as a reaction to this.
Years ago they stopped making red M&Ms for this reason. It's hard to read every label and find all the 'red dye' ingredients... grocery shopping can take hours until you learn the foods to avoid. I suppose my kids are healthier for not eating some of the junk that contains this ingredient.
S.-thanks again for bringing this to the forefront for other Moms. It is a real issue and all kids should avoid this!
Get online and write to the customer service depts of all the food companies, and lets demand that they leave the COLOR out! It won't change the taste or the nutritional value.
thanks again,
S. J

3 moms found this helpful

This is published medical fact that food additives contribute to hyperactivity in children. This was published in The Lancet's November, 3, 2007 issue. For the abstract read here: http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S014067360761...

While it doesn't specifically mention Red 40, my autistic stepson has had a history of problems with it, but my girls, who are healthy have not. I try to stay away from artificial everything, but it's really hard unless you're growing your own food and cooking everything from scratch. So, I avoid the really bad stuff like artificial dyes and high fructose corn syrup (Don't get me started on the not so sweet surprise people are really in for when they do their research) Why does our government let these things be sold as food? One word... Money. The Feingold diet recommended by some of the other moms is great if you're having consistent behavior problems.

2 moms found this helpful

Those dyes are pertroleum based...all of them, not just the red dye. There has been extensive research that shows that the artificial flavors and colors that are added into foods can cause a myriad of symptoms. IT has also been suggested that these additives are what has increased the number of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Thirty years ago, there were few "hyper" kids in a classroom. And, there were fewer artificial ingredients in foods.

You can learn more about this issue and the junk they put in our food by visiting www.feingold.org. You can also order a diet program which is free of all these additives. Hope this helps. Good luck. Traci

2 moms found this helpful

My 17 month old seems to be allergic to Yellow #5, apparently the most allergenic food dye. She developed short-lived hives on her face after eating Kraft MacNCheese and yellow american cheese (they smeared on her face). Thankfully there was no systemic reaction, but we are staying away from food dyes. We shop mostly at Trader Joes and try to buy as much organic food as we can afford. There are plenty of kid foods and snack foods without these ingredients - you just have to read all labels. One great treat I discovered is Popsicle brand Dora and Scribblers popsicles. They are the only ones I've seen that are made with natural colors and flavors and my kids love them.

Please report your child's reactions to the Center for Science in the Public Interest. They are a food-advocacy organization trying to get these additives banned. Here is their message and link to report reactions:

Is your child's behavior worsened by synthetic food dyes? If so, I need your help.
In June, CSPI asked the Food and Drug Administration to eliminate synthetic dyes, such as Yellow 5 and Red 40, from the food supply. Alarming new evidence shows these chemicals cause behavioral problems, such as hyperactivity, in some children.
If your child's behavior has been affected by food dyes or has improved from eliminating synthetic colorings from his or her diet, please file a report with us about your experience here:
In the U.K. and elsewhere in Europe, most multinational food companies are using natural colorings but continue to use synthetic dyes for American products. For example, in the U.K. the syrup in a McDonald's strawberry sundae is colored with actual strawberries. In the U.S., McDonald's uses a coal-tar-based dye, Red 40. Similarly, Nutri-Grain cereal bars, Starburst candies and Betty Crocker cake have safe, natural colorings in the U.K. but synthetic food dyes in the U.S.
The reports you file at www.cspinet.org/fooddyes will be sent periodically to the Food and Drug Administration, which regrettably continues to deny synthetic dyes cause behavioral problems in children. Unless we contact you asking permission to do otherwise, your name and contact information will be kept confidential.
Thank you for your help on this urgent issue. Please feel free to forward this message to parents of young children.

1 mom found this helpful


Years and years ago, we discovered that the red dye in hot dogs and ketchup were causing my little sister to get migraines. (Hot dogs and ketchup were a staple of her diet at the age of seven or so!) Once any foods with dye were taken out of her diet, the migraines stopped.

Good Luck,

1 mom found this helpful

None of my kids has had a bad reaction the dye, but a close neighbor had a pretty bad allergy to it, and she was actually hospitalized the first time she was exposed!
My niece also has bad reactions to Red Dye #40. One time I can remember clearly, she had a purple snowcone and about 15 minutes later, she started acting like she was "high". She stared into space, didn't make any sense when she spoke and even licked my son's head!! Then she ran around like a crazy person! It was disturbing, to say the least. My sis-in-law said she acted like that every time she ate something with that dye in it!
Pretty gross stuff, if you ask me!

My sister swore the red dye had the same effect on her daughter. She cut it out and said her daughter was like a new child. Glad to know she's not alone.


Yes. Check out the Feingold Program at www.feingold.org. Going on that program turned my child into a child I could actually love. We started it 3 years ago when my son was 5 years old. My older child is totally unaffected by food dyes and additives but it make a world of difference for my younger son. As it turns out he also has a salicylate sensitivity - which I discovered through the Feingold program. What a surprise! I felt proud that I fed my kids good, nutritional food but it turns out that they affected my younger son just as much as the food dyes. So while he was happily eating strawberries, peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, oranges, apples and berries it was having a bad effect on his body. Who would have guessed it!?

I shop at Wegman's and Whole Foods. It helps be to avoid a lot of the undesirable additives they put into food. I cook from scratch a lot and buy fewer processed foods. I take a long time to read labels. I will supply his own food - substituting as closely as possible - when his group is eating food (birthday celebrations at schools, church and vacation bible school snacks, etc....). It does involve work and vigilance but it is so worth it.

I also belong to a food coop. We order our food as a group from a company that supplies food free of dyes, additives and preservatives. We are able to get discounts that we would not be able to get buying the stuff individually. Many of us are in the same boat - most of us have some type of restrictions in our diet.

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