Plenty of Concerns Surround Red Dye No. 40 — Here's a List of Foods Without It


Sep. 13 2023, Published 2:10 p.m. ET

Kraft macaroni and cheese boxes
Source: Getty Images

In 2015, Kraft stopped using synthetic dyes in its mac and cheese products.

One of the controversial food additives that is permitted in the U.S. is artificial coloring, in particular red dye No. 40. Dyes are added to a plethora of packaged foods in the U.S., but some studies have indicated adverse health effects from consuming red dye No. 40. Trying to avoid red dye No. 40 can be a bit of a minefield, unfortunately.

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For those who have health concerns around red dye No. 40, especially parents of young children, we've compiled a list of various packaged foods without red dye No. 40.

Many of the brands on this list use only natural food dyes, such as those made from fruits and vegetables. And as a bonus, products that are free of synthetic dyes are often free from other potential allergens as well.

white bowl filled with multi-colored jellybeans
Source: Patrick Fore/Unsplash

Red dye No. 40 isn't only in brightly colored candy, but in all sorts of packaged foods and drinks.

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What is red dye No. 40 and why are people concerned?

As Healthline notes, red dye No. 40 is a synthetic color additive (food dye) that's made from petroleum. The FDA has approved it for food and beverage use. Other organizations including the World Health Organization, the EPA, and the Food and Agriculture Organization don't believe red dye No. 40 is a health concern. However, the European Union requires a health warning label on products with red dye No. 40, per Verywell Health.

Some studies have shown a link between consumption of red dye No. 40 and health problems such as allergies, migraine, ADHD, and behavioral changes, per Healthline. The FDA explains that it approves of food dyes with specific guidelines as to the maximum safe amount, types of foods they can be added to, and how foods with dyes must be labeled.

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According to the FDA, "The totality of scientific evidence indicates that most children have no adverse effects when consuming foods containing color additives, but some evidence suggests that certain children may be sensitive to them." Therefore, it's up to the consumer or parent to determine whether to eliminate or limit red dye No. 40.

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Here's a list of foods without red dye No. 40.

Here's a variety of snacks, drinks, and more that are totally free of red dye No. 40:

  • Annie's Homegrown snack bars, crackers, fruit tape, and more
  • Smart Sweets snacks
  • Unreal Chocolate Gems
  • Lärabar Fruit and Nut Bars
  • MadeGood Star Puffed Crackers
  • Bare Snacks Banana Chips, Simply Red Apple Chips, Toasted Coconut Chips
  • Pirate's Booty chips
  • Cape Cod chips
  • Kashi cereals
  • Kraft Mac & Cheese
  • Cascadian Farm Organic cereals
  • Chex cereals
  • Nature Valley snack bars
  • Simply Doritos Organic White Cheddar Flavored Tortilla Chips
  • Simply Cheetos
  • Simply Smartfood White Cheddar
  • Back to Nature crackers
  • Mott's fruit flavored snacks
  • Black Forest fruit snacks and gummies
  • Natural Candy Store candies
  • Hint flavored waters
  • Capri Sun drink pouches
  • Pure Leaf Real Brewed Tea Raspberry
  • Bolthouse Farms salad dressings
  • Tessemae's salad dressings
  • Primal Kitchen salad dressings
  • BodyArmor Lyte sports drink
  • Skratch Labs sports hydration mixes
  • Nuun Sport hydration tablets
  • Superieur Electrolytes sports drink mix
  • Ultima Replenisher sports drink powder
  • Zico sports drinks.

Here are some tips for avoiding red dye No. 40.

This list should help you avoid red dye No. 40 when it comes to processed, packaged foods, but you can also minimize consumption of the additive in other ways.

Sticking to whole ingedients, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and beans, and otherwise making more of your food and drink from scratch can make a big difference in your exposure to artificial colors and other potentially harmful ingredients.

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