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
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 .
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” .