Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Seeing Red on Valentine's Day - How to Avoid Red 40

If you are trying to avoid red dye for your children, Valentine's Day can be dreadful...everything is a shade of red! And it's all so pretty and tempting. Schools offer "candy grams" where you can send a bag of artificially colored and flavored candy to your kids. Oh, and their friends can send them one too! Then, at lunch on Valentine's Day well-meaning parents bring in cookies or cupcakes with red frosting. Red frosting has arguably the highest concentration of red dye per tablespoon than any other food. Then they end the day by bringing home cards from one another that appear to be simply a vehicle for more candy.

The Feingold Association is calling for better research in this article published in their blue book which is free to download on their website.
Scientists who study the effects of additives on behavior have traditionally studied only the handful of allowed
synthetic food colorings,  ignoring the other 12,000 food additives now in use but never tested for
behavioral or neurological effects.  Safety studies usually test each additive alone, although we eat lots of
them together, often combined in a single product. A landmark study (Lau 2006), recently found that two
additives commonly used together inhibited developing neurons many times more than they were expected to
do, based on the damage each caused alone.  More studies on such common combinations are urgently needed.
This article explains that the only scientific studies that have been conducted about the effect of food dyes have used levels far below what the average American actually ingests in a day. The Nutrition Foundation, a group of food additive and chemical companies, recommends studies use 27 mg/day in studies about ADHD & diet. This article suggests that back in 1977 (when these studies were conducted) the average American was ingesting more like 327 mg/day! I would imagine that number has only grown and, that it doubles or triples for the average child on a holiday!

So, if you want to keep your family away from problem-causing food colors on Valentine's Day here are a few great candy companies who make wonderful, natural candies and chocolates.

Indie Candy is one of our favorites. Owned by a Feingold mom, this Birmingham, Alabama based company offers allergen free chocolates and candies. Their facility is free of the top 8 most common allergens including peanuts, gluten, milk, soy, and eggs. They have many corn-free options also. We love their big lollipops, gummi candies and cotton candy. Their chocolates are delicious as well.

The Squirrel's Nest is also owned by a Feingold family and is located in Delaware. The Natural Candy Store features lots of additive-free candy as well. All of these websites will list their candy as stage one or stage two of Feingold and usually offer specials around holidays.

There are also locally found candies that are natural. Check your Feingold materials for brandnames!

And if you are in the Atlanta area, check out Sarah Kate's Bakery for Feingold approved cupcakes and sweet treats in a variety of delicious flavors. They also offer gluten and dairy free options!

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