Another Azo Dye Is Banned (Red 2G) for Cancer Risk by the EU

How to avoid brands with artificial food coloring

Azo Dye news: Hold off on frying up those sausages and burgers you have in the bottom of your freezer before reading the following update. This week the European Union has officially banned the use of azo dye Red 2G, or E128 from being used as a food coloring because recent studies have proven that the azo dye is a known cancer causing additive.

The red 2G azo dye was originally permitted for use in low cereal-filled breakfast sausages and burger meats in Europe.  The red 2G azo dye was used to restore the appearance of food whose color was affected by processing, storage, packaging and distribution.

Why the Red 2G Azo Dye was Banned in Meat Products

Azo dye red 2G is banned in Europe but is still legal in the U.S. along with other artificial colors linked to cancer.
Red 2G azo dye | author: Matthew Bowden

This news isn’t a surprise. Studies since 1999 have warned about azo dye dangers. Watch groups have also been sounding off since the 1980s.

Although Red 2G has not been legal in the States for quite some time, I should remind readers that this does not mean that consumers in the U.S. are safe from inadvertent consumption of this and other azo dyes.

The European Food Safety Authority raised the following safety concerns about Red 2G and its metabolite aniline in its opinion on July 5, 2007:

“Aniline was genotoxic in vivo in rats and mice,… based on similar metabolism of aniline in animals and humans a carcinogenic risk for man cannot therefore be excluded”[link].

In lay-man’s terms, Red 2G converts to aniline, a known toxic compound, when it reaches the intestines. As a result, on July 20, 2007 the European Commission has unanimously approved a draft Regulation to suspend use of E128 as a food coloring.

According to G.D. Muir, aniline vapor is toxic when inhaled, absorbed through the skin or swallowed. It causes headaches, drowsiness, mental confusion and in severe cases convulsions. Long term exposure to the vapor over a period of time affects the blood and nervous system, causing tiredness, loss of appetite, headaches and dizzy spells [2].

Red 2G is already banned in Australia, Austria, Canada, Japan, Norway, Sweden, and the United States. It was recently banned in Ireland, Israel and Greece this July, this after decades of use.

Learn a Little bit about what an Azo Dye is:

Azo dyes are synthetic. This means they’re not found naturally in the environment. Red 2G is only one of several azo dyes. Most of them are currently being used around the world. They are usually brilliant colors. Food colors such as Sunset Yellow, Yellow Dye #5 (Tartrazine), and Brilliant Black are well known azo dyes in the U.S.

Watch groups say Azo dyes cause asthma and brain dysfunction/ hyperactivity in children [link]. Jacobson and Schardt, in a report that reviews 23 separate studies about the negative effects of food additives on children with ADHD says,

“The FDA should require certain new and existing additives to be tested for behavioral effects. It should consider banning from foods used widely by children any dyes and other additives that affect behavior” [3].

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4 Comments on Another Azo Dye Is Banned (Red 2G) for Cancer Risk by the EU

  1. Dear Doctor,

    My son has been put on many ADHD drugs trying to control hyperactivity. I noticed his temper tantrums and fits and inability to concentrate at about 4 years. He is a boy and he is young for his grade in school. He is now 9. Drugs have often times had unwanted side effects and little to no effect on his hyperactivity.

    Last year we bought Nestle carmel ice cream topping or milk flavoring, a pretty common food product most everywhere. My child choose to drink milk with Carmel coloring for dinner three nights in a row, with food of course. After dinner his behavior became very irate, tantrums, maniac activity that culminated in fits about not wanting to go to bed! He would lay and rage in his bed crying, until he would fitfully go to sleep and then wake up screaming. Even once, he ran into out room and started screaming that he saw something in the corner that was not there! It was frightening!

    That is when I began to make the connection. I looked at the label on the food and noticed the only thing in the Carmel flavoring was sugar and yellow food dyes. I have tried to cut yellow food dyes completely out of his diet. My husband thinks this is a joke. He thinks we are punishing him for an imagined connection, but when I do eliminate the yellow dyes ….we have no fits or manic behavior. What is your opinion? Why haven’t more people made these connections?

    Wishing you good luck
    And much happiness

    • Check out the Feingold organization. They have been around for over 30 years. Yellow dye #5 is very problematic for my son too. The azo dyes are neurotoxins. If you read Dr. Blaylock’s books, too you will see there is a lot of information about it. Another good resource is Doris Rapp’s book, “Is this Your Child?” For our son, corn in his diet was a major problem as far as his ability to pay attention and hyperness. Let’s just say that we had a nickname for him– “Tigger” that seemed to fit– he was just like the character from Winnie the Pooh.
      Medical doctors are slowly catching on. Too many people are starting to avoid artificial foods and seeing improvements in their health and well being. Here is a Feingold page on the research.

  2. My son had autism and adhd and has been doing very well. He had been acting unusually hyperactive and as I went through all our drinks and such I realized that we had added and have been pushing TANG. The old space drink for kids. While this drink is 1/2 the sugar as most drinks it contains a number of Artificial colors not mentioned and Yellow 5 and Yellow 6. So much for the space drink for now.

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