Today I had a blueberry flavored Oatmeal Crisp Fruit ‘n Cereal Bar. Among its 60 or so ingredients are Red 40 and Blue 1. Today’s lesson: how to do research on the internet. I’m limiting my research to Red 40, though.
- Search for "Red 40" at google.com.
- The first hit returned has lots of neat chemical formulas and pictures, stating:
These dyes were originally manufactured from coal tar, but are now mostly made from petroleum.
Nice. I don’t trust the first source of information I read, wanting to ensure it’s accurate.
- Scanning down the list of hits google returned, I look for URLs and titles that appear to come from legitimate, reliable sources. Further down the list are some hits from government (.gov) and education (.edu) sites.
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration states that:
FD&C Red No. 40 may be safely used for
coloring foods (including dietary supplements) generally in amounts
consistent with good manufacturing practice…
I don’t like that "good" stuck in there; they don’t define it anywhere.
- I changed my search terms to "how is "red 40" manufactured" and found this explanation at one of the hits:
…many American scientists feel that the safety of Red # 40 is far from established, particularly because all of the tests were conducted by the manufacturer. Therefore, the dye should not have receive a permanent safety rating. The National Cancer institute reported that p-credine, a chemical used in preparation of Red #40, was carcinogenic in animals. The FDA permanently listed Red #40 for use in foods and ingested drugs but only temporarily listed it for cosmetics and externally applied drugs.
- This time we add our new word, searching for "carcinogenic red 40". This returns 39,500 hits. That’s enough for me.
So what did we learn about Red 40?
- It’s possibly carcinogenic.
- It’s the name of a band.