Red food pigment is a color additive or a dye that imparts color when it is added to any type of food. The purpose of food coloring is to enhance colors that occur naturally or to simulate a color that is perceived by the consumer as natural, and to make food or drink more attractive.

There are two types of red pigment dye:
*Natural Red Dye.
Natural red dye is a dye derived from different types of plants such as beets, red peppers and a certain type of cactus.
When you read the nutrition facts labels on products you will notice some common food labelling terms such as: “natural red color”, “natural colors” or “naturally derived red color”. These products actually contain natural colors derived from the roots of beets, red cactus, red pepper and other red plants.
Unfortunately, natural dyes are not commonly used in foods because they are not stable and they lose color due to exposure to high\low temperature.
Some types of ice cream, candies, yogurt and strawberry flavored milk are all contain natural dyes.
It should be noticed that the type of dye additives may vary from one country to another. In Europe, for example, natural colors are largely used compared to artificial dyes that are used commonly in the United States for some commercial reasons.
Red dye in some food products has been replaced by a colored substance called E120, extracted from a particular type of female scale insects called “Polish cochineal” or from a little insect called the “Armenian cochineal”. This source of red color is considered prohibited by certain religions as it is an animal source.

*Artificial Red Dye.
Artificial dyes have several trade names, depending on the range of the red color used in products. These artificial dyes, extracted from certain chemical elements, are not expensive compared to the natural dyes. Artificial color additives are used in foods as they offset color loss due to temperature extremes.
Artificial dyes are used in a variety of non-food applications including paints, ink, cosmetics, cleaning materials, home craft projects, medical devices and many other products.

Unfortunately, artificial dyes may cause a range of side effects and health risks including:
  • Hyperactivity in children.
  • General sensitivity.
  • Asthma and some breathing problems.
  • Allergic to aspirin.
  • Some cancers such as bladder and colon cancer.
    Bayan Tayeh
    Bayan works as a content writer and graphic designer. She is highly interested in the field of healthcare and health education. Her goal is to change the way people think about sticking to some dietary habits, and to encourage them consume real food, as possible, so we can build a healthier world.