Children naturally respond to bright colors: toys, books and even food with bright colors attract their attention more easily. But the chemicals widely used as food coloring – the red dye which makes maraschino cherries bright red, for instance – have been linked to potentially serious human health problems including asthma, allergies, cancer and neuro-behavioral problems, such as ADHD. Peer-reviewed studies spanning several decades suggest the following chemical dyes should be avoided: Blue 1, Blue 2, Citrus Red, Green 3, Orange B, Red 3, Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6.
The good news is that there are plenty of safe, natural dyes that come from vegetables, spices and fruits such as beets, carrots, turmeric and blueberries. If you look for them, you will find products that are colorful and appealing to kids which use only natural colorings. Eye-opening information on food dyes can be found here.