What are Food Colorings? Natural Food and Artificial Food Coloring

Food colorings: Food colorants are dyes, pigments or additives added to foods. It is often added to processed drinks, condiments, medicinal drugs and cosmetics. The FSSAI ensures approval of the additives in order to ensure that it can be safe for consumption.


Food colorants can be of two types: Natural and artificial food colorings

Some of the natural food colorings include:

  • Lycopene (obtained from tomatoes)
  • Anthocyanin- This consists of reddish purple to bluish in colour.
  • Turmeric
  • Beta carotene- It has red orangish colour
  • Caramel- Dark brown liquid obtained by heating sugars.
  • Betanin-obtained from beetroots.

Some of the artificial food colorings include:

  • Quinolone yellow: It is a water soluble dye
  • Erythrosine: It is pinkish colored dye often used in cakes and candies.
  • Tartrazine: A lemon yellow colored dye, used in candies, soft drinks and deserts.
  • Sunset yellow: It is a yellow-orange dye used in baked goods and sauces.
  • Brilliant blue: It is used in icings, soft drinks and canned foods.

Can synthetic food colorants cause ADHD/hyperactivity?

There is no official evidence regarding the same though a few studies connect ADHD with food colorants use.  In a study conducted by Belinda Bateman in 2004, there was association seen between  artificial food colorings and benzoate preservatives on the behaviour of 3 year old children. A study conducted in 1978 by JP Harley though, found no associations between food colorings and hyperactivity. Yet another study conducted by KS Rowe on 800 children found that about 24 children exhibited irritability, restlessness and sleep disturbance.

Hence through this studies, we can conclude that there is a small but significant association between hyperactivity and food colourants, though more research needs to be conducted in this area.


There are also certain researches linking consumption of artificial food dyes to cancer and allergies, though more research needs to be conducted in this area.

Eating whole, unprocessed foods must be the utmost priority as they are dye free and it is also best to read food labels before its consumption.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button