Brain Health Guide To Red Dye #40

See if you can figure out what the following list of foods has in common:

  • Kraft barbecue sauce
  • Lasagna Hamburger Helper
  • Del Monte fruit salad
  • Nacho Cheese Doritos
  • Welch’s Frozen Fruit Bars
  • Duncan Hines Homestyle Vanilla Frosting
  • Schweppes diet ginger ale
  • Lipton Instant Ice Tea – Natural Lemon Flavor
  • Maraschino Cherries

Besides being an unhealthy part of the Standard American Diet, if you guessed that they all contain Red Dye #40, you’d be correct.

Horrifyingly, the food industry dumps 15 million pounds of artificial dyes into our food every year – over 40 percent of which is Red Dye #40, a petroleum-based substance. Also known as Allura Red AC, Red Dye #40 is the number one food dye used in the United States, found in most any unnaturally red foods. But you will find it in brown, blue, orange, and even white things, too. For example, without Red Dye #40, chocolate instant pudding would actually look green (because there’s VERY little real chocolate in it).

Even though there are safe and natural alternatives available, artificial food dyes are a cheap way for manufacturers to make food even brighter and more appealing when you see it on a shelf in the grocery store. Surprisingly you can find Red Dye #40 in a wide range of foods; candy, condiments, snack foods, baked goods, soda, juice, salad dressings, toothpaste, mouthwash, and even medicine, can all be artificially dyed.

Although Red Dye #40 has been approved by the FDA for use in food products and must be listed as an ingredient on labels, it has been banned at one time or another throughout Australia and most of Europe due to health concerns.

Multiple studies published in journals such as Pediatrics, The Lancet, and Journal of Pediatrics demonstrate that some children with ADHD are adversely affected by artificial food dyes. Other recent research indicates that artificial coloring and flavors, as well as the preservative sodium benzoate, can make some non-ADD kids hyperactive. Additionally, both adults and children have reported upset stomach, migraines, jitteriness, nervousness, and inability to concentrate after a high intake of Red Dye #40. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) recently released a report that says artificial food dyes pose a “rainbow of risks” including everything from allergies to cancer.

Our brain imaging also demonstrates that Red Dye #40 can dramatically affect brain function. Consider the case of Robert, a 15-year-old that was recently imaged at Amen Clinics. His parents noticed that whenever Robert ate or drank something bright red, his behavior became aggressive and hostile. He would easily cry and storm off in a huff or throw things. They brought him to Amen Clinics to confirm their suspicions that he was reacting to these food additives.


As can be seen on this teen’s SPECT scan, his brain showed remarkable overall increased activity with exposure to Red Dye #40. In the images, blue equals average activity; red equals the top 15% of brain activity; white equals the top 8%.

Once they removed Red Dye #40 from his diet, his behavior improved dramatically. Robert’s mother strongly believes that their experience is not a unique one and that Red Dye #40 should be completely banned from our food supply.

Knowing that you are what you eat, no discussion about changing your diet for health can miss the importance of eliminating this substance!

At Amen Clinics, we want to help you learn more about your brain and how you can make it better, not only for yourself but for the generations that follow. Call us today at 888-288-9834 or visit our website to schedule an appointment.

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  1. Zoomarjr1 says:

    Great info! Fortunately, I avoid foods such as those mentioned.

    • Ronna Berezin says:

      Daz… first learn that “there” is a place and their shows ownership. Also start your sentences with a capital letter and end with a period. Not that red dye caused your grammatical errors…..Just sayin!!!

      • Peter says:

        Ronna, are u aware that language, both spoken and written, is always changing?
        and who are u to dictate how people should start and end there sentences and why do u care
        Did Daz ask u to be his censor or proof reader?
        Wouldn’t it be better if we all focus on content and aid each other in our journey rather than try to put down those we disagree with?

        • Ronna Berezin says:

          Don’t agree! My criticism is not a put down any more than your reprimanding me is a put down; Excuse me , but I did focus on his comment, which would carry more weight if it were grammatically correct instead of seeming not well thought out. And … do you think Daz was not a censor or proof reader of what he considered to be bad content? Think again instead odf being so touchy in a public discussion where we all have the right to express our views.

  2. Daz says:

    OMG, you quote a commie food police non-science left wing hacks, Center for Science in the Public Interest. They have zero expertise, there run by ambulance chasing lawyers, you expect me to believe a word, there lawyers say, please try a credible source next time.

    • Hanno Kirk says:

      Where do you get this ridiculous idea that Center for Science in the Public Interest is a commie outfit. Sounds like you have some serious brain processing issues, when it comes to sane judgment.

    • BurghBrawler says:

      I think this was a great article with some information for people to stop and seriously think about, and hopefully they will be inspired to do their own research.
      So, Daz, are you stating you are IN FAVOR of having potentially hazardous food dyes added to our foods, or just flaming the one source (of the four sources listed in the same paragraph)?

    • Melody Anderson Parshall says:

      *they’re run by…
      *their lawyers say…

  3. Dennis Wenthold says:

    Looks like I will have to drop the nachos but it is the only one I have used

  4. Hanno Kirk says:

    These facts about Red Dye 40 have been known for at least 30 years. It is unfortunate that our FDA is so spineless. They are under heavy pressure from the food industry not to ban a munch of substances that have been demonstrated by solid research to have disruptive effects on brain functioning.
    Another food additive that should be banned is Aspartame. It is in all diet drinks. It can be considered a neurotoxin. It is addictive, i.e. you keep wanting to have more. The soft drink industry knows that. When Pepsi temporarily changed to Stevia, sales plunged. So they changed back to Aspartame.

  5. Ryan Michelle Jacobson says:

    Powerful! Thank you for sharing!

  6. Lori Welander says:

    Thank you for those words of wisdom!! I will for sure be checking food labels for Red Dye #40.

  7. Mary says:

    We noticed our son had a reaction to red dye when we adopted him at 5. We saw aggressive, hostile and self harming behavior – which he did because he thought his brain was on fire. (He used to bang his head hard to get the pain to stop. His SPECT scan results showed that his brain was “hammered” on all sides.) We learned that any food that looks the same way every time, has artificial food coloring in it, because if it is natural, it is going to look different. Nature Valley Sweet and Salty bars used to not have red dye, and then they added it. We asked why, and they said because they got so many complaints about the color changing. I haven’t checked back in the past few years, but it used to be that all Tylenol and all prescription cough syrups had red dye. Our dentist had to hand mix the fluoride treatment for our son’s teeth. It really is in a lot of things.

  8. Crissie says:

    Do food products list this as “red dye #40” in their ingredients?

  9. Sonia says:

    I feel very lucky to know this information in advance. I have always been in a habit of checking food labels. My kids know that they will never get a colorful fruity cereal because it has lots of artificial colors , sugar and preservatives that are bad or other foods that has tons of artificial ingredients. Not only red color 40 is bad but also TBHQ, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, MSG etc. A simple food like a cereal or chips have long unwanted list of ingredients. Simple rule is if a food has more than 4-5 ingredients don’t buy it. Something you can’t pronounce don’t buy it. Train yourself and your family in a way that they have no craving for artificial foods. Instead of candy and snacks offer fruits, instead of soda, offer good juices, water etc. Little changes make a huge difference in our overall attitude. We are what we eat and our body survives well on pure foods and ingredients rather than artificial foods.

  10. Julie says:

    The best way to avoid food dyes is to eat organic fruits and vegetables. Just stop buying the junk. Prepare your food at home. Think of an apple as fast food. It’s just a shift in thinking – it’s not hard.

  11. Pamela Philip Eide says:

    I am 61 years old and have a profound heart reaction to Red dye #40 and a few others. It took me years to find out what was causing my heart to go into A-fib and tachycardia randomly. Now that I have discovered the connection to Red dye #40 and Yellow #5 &#6, I am able to function without these episodes haunting me. I have completely eliminated dyes from my diet. None of them are good for you. We just add them here in the U.S. for esthetics. They are banned in all countries except the U.S. and the U.K. Maybe we should think less how things look and more about what effect they have on us.

  12. adam towe says:

    i am 10 years old and i have adhd and red 40 causes me to act out you know. hi world.

  13. adam towe says:


  14. Hodaya says:

    Can I possibly get the bibliography of all the resources/journals/articles mentioned here?


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