Tartrazine can cause a variety of allergic reactions that vary from mild itching and skin rashes to serious allergy-like hypersensitivity. People who are allergic to aspirin have the strongest responses to Yellow 5. An early European study, published in 1998, showed that people who are allergic to aspirin are more likely to experience adverse reactions to yellow 5. This can include asthma attacks and bronchoconstriction or difficulty breathing.
Yellow 5 seems to cause hyperactivity in some children. The Food Standards Agency, FSA, which is UK’s equivalent to the FDA, issued a warning in 2008 about certain food colorings. The warning said that certain colorings, including tartrazine, can cause behavioral changes in children that included loss of concentration and impulsive, hard-to-control activity. The recommendation is to avoid or limit consumption of products that contain yellow 5. If a child develops hyperactive behavior, try eliminating this coloring from the diet and pay attention to the changes that follow.
Yellow 5 has been linked to a number of health problems, including blurred vision, migraines, fatigue and anxiety. It might also cause chromosomal damage, although this hasn’t been properly studied or documented.
Risk of Cancer
According to board certified family physician Dr. Joel Fuhrman, some dyes can be contaminated by chemical carcinogens as they go through the manufacturing process. Yellow 5 is one of these colorings. As it is manufactured, yellow 5 runs the risk of coming into contact with carcinogenic substances, such as benzidine.
- BBC News: Parents Warned of Additives Link
- Food Reactions: Food Colouring E100-E181
- Center for Science in the Public Interest: Summary of the Safety of All Additives
- “Pneumo Foundation”; Intolerance to Tartrazine in Aspirin-Induced Asthma: Results of a Multicenter Study; Ch. Virchow et al; 1998
- Disease Proof: Dangers Associated with Food Dyes
- “A Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives, 7th Edition: Descriptions in Plain English of More Than 12,000 Ingredients Both Harmful and Desirable Found in Foods”; Ruth Winter; Three Rivers Press; 2009