Winners And Losers Of Food Coloring: August And September 2012

I originally published this compilation feature once a month because it seemed about right for the amount of food dye related content I could find last Spring.  But things are really ramping up in the food dye news this year.  I’m happy to see more attention for this issue in the news and blogs, but at the same time, it makes for more labor-intensive and link-heavy blog posts.  

Not to mention, it’s been a busy season for me with travel, school, and the round of sickies that go along with that.  Thanks to strep throat, this post right here is terribly late (not that anyone is waiting on the edge of their seats…we’re all busy).

While I enjoy digging up these gems and offering commentary, I wonder if it would be better to do short little posts about bizarre food coloring news more often, at the time that I find them.  Compiling these Winners And Losers lists is great fun for me, but it’s also a LOT of work, a lot of links, and may not even be conducive to YOUR participation.  

So tell me, would you be more apt to comment here on the blog if I brought my winners and losers to you more often, in little chunks?  Or do you like the monthly list format?

For today, I’ve got a lot of catching up to do, and way more Losers than Winners, so here it goes!


The Time Life Foundation partnered with schools to remove baddies from school lunch, and increase students’ physical activities.  I’d love for them to come visit the Dekalb County School District!

Burma‘s Food and Drug Administration cracked down on imported junk.  The US FDA could take a leaf from their book, in my opinion.

Canada’s Loblaws food retailer announced it will remove all artificial colors and flavorings from its house brand, “President’s Choice”, by 2013.  Why?  Because their customers expressed concerns over these additives.  Simple as that. No opinions from a legion of lawyers needed.

Bill Kitchens, author of “Junk Food Farm“.  The story follows a farmer who feeds his animals junk food full of food coloring and other additives, and the scary results.  See what happens when he cleans up his act.  I’m going to ask Santa for a couple of copies of this, then keep one for my daughter, and send the other copy to Kansas City farmer Mike Yoder.  See more below…and have a bucket ready.

Cocktail (and tiki) enthusiasts who keep it real.  These folks won’t settle for some cheap swill and a little food coloring.  My straw hat’s off to you guys for getting creative with your containers rather than lowering your standards.  Okole Maluna!

Pet owners who are concerned for their pets’ wellbeing. Seems small, but I was getting tired of reporting on folks who dye cats, baby chicks and bunnies.  So I’m happy when I spot folks like these who care as much about their animal companions as themselves.

Local news reporting about the dangers of synthetic food coloring from here to Far-Foodle.  Check out these takes from Indiana’s oldest community newspaper, The Southside Times, plus the Victoria Advocate in Texas, and The Wakefield Patch in Massachusetts.

Online magazines, for sparking the debate, calling out rainbow cakes, and encouraging people to be informed and vote with their dollars.  See the recent articles in Wired, Forbes, and Health & Wellness Magazine

Shop owners who use real ingredients in beloved classics.  If I’m ever in Portland, you will find me stalking this bakery, where vintage recipes are updated without the post-WWII technicolor junk. Bonus: They published a vintage cakes cookbook!  That’s another one for Santa’s list, and something I wouldn’t mind handing down to my daughter.  Better than the stack of scary cookbooks my grandma left behind.  Sorry Granny Fox!  But now I’m sort of inspired to adapt her Snape-esque potions handbooks to less scary versions…

Blogs that showcase natural dyes in gorgeous cake recipes.  Like the writers at Wired, I pray that the natural food coloring trend overshadows the scary-clown classification of eye-injuring rainbow recipes found all over Pinterest.

Halloween Candy Buy-Back programs.  Your food-savvy trick or treater can trade in their synthetic loot for money at participating dentist offices.  Ask your dentist if they have a program, or search for one on this website.  Tell your dentist to start preparing NOW by reading this site for instructions.

Hold on to these happy thoughts.  You’re gonna need them…


ICE sparkling drink manufacturer for doubling the red dye content in a product without telling anyone.  Sneaky, sneaky. Check out Nick The Chemist’s analysis of this toxic tomfoolery.  He has a terrific site called Dye Diet, where I could spend hours soaking up all of his product reviews.

People who use yellow food coloring to fake urine tests.  Okay, so they’re probably on drugs, so I shouldn’t be surprised right?  Yet I’m still speechless every time some dumba$$ posts these questions all over the internet.

People who pour food coloring into their e-cigarette juice.  The idea behind electronic cigarettes is to wean yourself off the nasty habit of the real thing, with its hundreds of chemicals and documented health risks…so why add propylene glycol and petroleum back into the mix?  Reading and writing about all these people who think they’re gonna turn their amaretto vapor green with food coloring takes at least seven minutes off of my life each month.

Blue velvet cake.  Modern day “red velvet cake” is bad enough, with its bastardized chemical gore…but blue velvet may be worse still with its double whammy of petroleum slush and its delayed, shall we say time-released, affects on your…after party.  If you’re gonna be up all night with additive-induced insomnia and paranoia, why not add self-diagnosis with Smurf Butt to the list?

Tofu manufacturers who sneakily use industrial dyes.  Taiwan’s Consumer’s Foundation found industrial dyes, disinfectants, and unhealthy levels of preservatives in tofu.  I like the warning at the end for people to stop consuming synthetic dyes and opt for natural colorants.

Ex-spouses who feed their kids bad stuff during their visitation.  Okay let’s be honest here.  It’s usually the dads who are guilty of this (although a friend of mine deals with this after her stepchild returns from his mom’s).  The scenario:  Mom provides specific instructions, detailed “safe” food lists, and homemade snacks.  Dad wants to feel like Bill Cosby the chocolate cake hero, feeds them carnie food, and then returns unrecognizable pod beasts to Mom for a week-long whirlwind of tantrums. Repeat bi-weekly.  There should seriously be a provision for dietary needs in custody papers.  

Frito-Lay.  They stopped cooperating with consumer requests for information from the Feingold Association now, claiming they couldn’t divulge all of their ingredients because they’re “proprietary”. Luckily, the Feingold people have researched plenty of alternatives from more transparent companies who actually care about their customers’ preferences.  E-mail or tweet manufacturers like Frito-Lay and ask them to be for real.  Add the hash tag #DitchTheDyes.  And as always, vote with your dollars.

Friends who prank you with synthetic food coloring.  Dude, not cool.  Though this story is less heavy-hitting, the video of a tween playing a tasteless joke on her BFF is entertaining in a train wreck kind of way, and cautionary in a Driver’s Ed kinda way.  I wanna see a revenge sequel.  Oh YouTube, what would I do without you?  You’re the font of teenage Kool-Aid-hair-coloring knowledge…Oh Yeah!

Towns that spend taxpayer money to dye lakes blue.   This city dyed a lake blue to cover an algae problem.  The dye only lasts two to four weeks, tops.  But the cost was $30,000 in taxpayer funds. Hey, they gotta keep up with those snobs over in Shelbyville somehow.  Three-eyed fish be damned.

Towns that spray paint their birds.  The city of Venice, which has been fighting with its pigeon population for years, decided to embrace their feathered foes by gussying them up for an architectural campaign.  A few lucky birds were sprayed with food coloring, to make them feel more special, and relatable to the people.   I’d love to see how their six-week makeover might brighten their…influence…on the city’s architecture.  Oh, how I hope to see some statues of haughty dignitaries splattered with red, green and blue like my favorite cords circa 1985.  

The “Standard American Diet”.  For obvious reasons, I am not pleased with our food system (see more below…remember that bucket?  Yeah, it’s almost time to insert your face in there…).  But even more obvious to me is its acronym:  “SAD.”  Why don’t folks think through these things when writing textbooks and policy?  It’s bad enough that we eat chemical junk daily, but must we subject ourselves to further ridicule?  The FDA’s use of GRAS (“generally recognized as safe”) is surely already giving the French a good laugh at our expense.

The rainbow pasta trend.  Pinterest, you’ve disappointed me again.  Okay, if you’re a grown person who simply must have rainbow noodles, go for it, and enjoy the afore-mentioned after affects.  But I cannot bear to look at these babies eating what appears to be Fat Rats shoelaces from the prize counter at Golden Gate Skating Rink.  Nooooo!  They’d be better off eating that ageless jar of pickled eggs at the snack bar.

People who dip snails in food coloring to get free art.  Now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d type.  Oh. Em. Gee.  Just looking at these pictures of slimy little Jackson Pollocks freaks me out.  I mean, all icky phobias aside, this is just not right.  I don’t go around looking for snails to save, but I could not imagine dipping the poor suckers into petrol dyes just so my kid can tease them around a piece of paper and hang it on my fridge door.  Blech.  They claim it did not harm the snails, but how the hell do they know??  I imagine little snail support groups popping up all over suburbia.  The little dudes get together to describe moments when they “lost time” and were “taken”…forced to perform humiliating tests.  The detox must be atrocious.  And sloooooooow.

Advertisements dyed into foods.  It seems advertising space is becoming more scarce, so some companies have taken to less subliminal methods of getting your mind on their brands.  Need to get pumped up for the big game?  Sink your teeth into these “foods” stamped with petroleum logos and then go sit near a camera linked to a Jumbotron!  Shirtless and painted gold all over your body, if you can swing it.

And now, the final, and in my opinion, worst loser of them all

Farmers who feed their cows gummy worms.  Holding back the upchuck now…where’s that bucket? You read that right – American farmers, in the face of drought and high corn prices, are now supplementing their already dangerous slop of peanut hulls and GMO soy with neon-dyed petroleum and HFCS candies.  Grain-fed, schmain-fed…This is a whole new game.  This is where all those leftover Chuckles and trippy breakfast cereals quietly go off to die.  The “Freakies” will now come back to haunt you in that steak, cheese, and bowl of cereal and milk – even as you consider yourself a clean eater.  It’s a sick cycle.  And a potentially deadly one.  Now people who are allergic to food coloring, preservatives, soy, peanuts, potatoes, etc. will have to carefully avoid yet another American diet staple.  Buy grass-fed beef and pasture-raised dairy products when you can.

I recently reposted that bit of shocking information on the Die, Food Dye Facebook fan page, thanks to Emily.  Please go there and “share” that post on your own Wall to help spread the word about this harmful food industry practice.

And don’t forget to comment on my question to you at the beginning!

You may also like:

Winners And Losers Of Food Coloring:  May 2012

Winners And Losers Of Food Coloring:  June 2012

Winners And Losers Of Food Coloring:  July 2012


 Taste the rainbow, Elsie!

9 Responses to “Winners And Losers Of Food Coloring: August And September 2012”
  1. The candy/cow feed one is unbelievable. How can people really think that it doesn’t matter what they eat, when we go on to eat them?

  2. Steph says:

    I like your lists, I always learn something new. I’m of the “short chunks” persuasion 🙂

  3. I like them together in one post. To make it easier you can add the tidbits to a saved post one-at-a-time as you find them. That way at the end all you have to do is write an intro and publish!

    • Indie Mama says:

      I have been doing that in Evernote since it’s on all my devices and I can jot down a link or idea from anywhere (awesome tool), but the formatting gets screwed up when I copy a complete list over to WordPress to publish. And adding “no follow” to a couple dozen links is a pain in the drain. Thanks for your opinion as always!

  4. Hillary says:

    I like them in little bits. I am a regular reader, so I follow every post. Bits of information here and there would give me something to read more often. How ever I will still read it all the way through and visit all the links regardless of how you choose to proceed.

    We deal with that weekend trip to dads thing with my son. Just this morning I spent an hour explaining to him why we call in an allergy and not a sensitivity. He is convinced that I am off my rocker and that it doesn’t cause any issues- the whole time he has been searching for a physical reaction not a behavioral one. Much to my dismay to make him a believer Sunday morning when he picks him up he is going to give him red jell-o and I provided him with a list of red40 reactions that my son experiences. While I feel bad for having to take this approach, I feel like something needs to be done to make him a believer. Can you suggest something less harsh than the jello he** I am about to put my son through for the sake of making his father a believer. I wish it was far simpler than these are foods we avoid I would appreciate it if you would too… one could only be so lucky.

  5. michel says:

    Thanks Steph for that input!

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