Red 40

Red 40 is a popular dye also known as Food Red 17 or Allura Red, and it is used throughout the food, beverage, and cosmetics industries. Years of market research support the idea that children and adult consumers select products according to visual appeal, and red is known as a color that excites many positive emotions. There has been much professional and public debate about the health effects that consuming Red 40 may create, and this is why public health organizations continue to review Red 40 and other dyes commonly used in consumer products.

Red 40 is usually formulated as a sodium salt, and the dark red powder is typically derived from petroleum. Information from the Food and Drug Administration suggests that Red 40 may pose fewer health risks than other dyes, but adverse effects such as behavior problems, hyperactivity, and pediatric cancers have been linked to Red 40 according to research presented by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Red 40 dye is the most widely used of all regulated food dyes, and it may be found in candy, carbonated beverages, gelatin desserts, sausage, and pet food. It is also one of the dyes that organizations like the Food and Drug Administration test most often, and the evidence against using Red 40 often ends up being inconsistent or inconclusive. Other groups advocate banning Red 40 in dairy products that may be marketed to children in particular, and the use of Red 40 in items often labeled as junk food continues to be debated as well.

Dyes like Red 40 are mixed with other dyes to produce a range of visually appealing colors in many consumer products. This is why it may be important for consumers to read labels and for manufacturers to include detailed information regarding product ingredients. Continued education and review is likely for Red 40 and its use in soda and other popular beverages.

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