Love it, Like it, Hate it: Food Colors


Four bottles of food coloring.

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There are a lot of reasons to avoid artificial food dyes, but for years we had very few other options, short of making our own with natural ingredients like beet extract and turmeric. These days, however, more and more options are showing up on shelves, making it easier than ever to add a pop of color to our nutritious, delicious treats without the artificial colors.  Check out this week’s Get the Skinny to find out Molly top picks and worst bets.


  • RED 40 is the most widely used food dye; can cause allergy-like reactions.
  • YELLOW 5 is the second-most-widely used coloring; causes allergy-like hypersensitivity reactions, triggers hyperactivity in some children.
  • YELLOW 6: Industry-sponsored animal tests indicated that this dye, the third-most-widely-used, causes tumors of the adrenal gland and kidney. May cause hypersensitivity reactions.
  • BLUE 2: Animal studies found some—but not conclusive—evidence that Blue 2 causes brain cancer in male rats, but the FDA concluded that there is “reasonable certainty of no harm”.

Source: Center for Science in the Public Interest | Chemical Cuisine


LOVE IT!  [Made with all-natural vegetable juices and spices]

Watkins Food Coloring [liquid] $6.99

McCormick Color From Nature [powder] $6.98

Color Kitchen Colors from Nature [powder] $10.86


LIKE IT!  [natural, but pricey]

India Tree Nature’s Colors Decorating Set – $14.97 on Amazon; as high as $20 in stores

  • Available at natural food stores like Whole Foods
  • All-natural, vegetable-based food dyes
  • $$ is the reason it landed in the “LIKE IT” category


HATE IT!  [Contain artificial red, blue, and yellow food dyes]

Traditional artificial food colors like McCormick Food Colors – $6.62-$8.11



Want more from Molly?  Click here to sign up for Nutrition Bites, her weekly e-newsletter with links to her Get the Skinny TV segments here on WGNO, and her weekly column in|The Times-Picayune!   And you can follow Molly on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram:  @MollyKimballRD


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