Food Dye Free Choices

by Brooke Bernard on September 14, 2011

I know I said in my first food dye post that I wouldn’t judge you if you went ahead and fed your kids petroleum, er, I mean, food with food dye. And I won’t judge YOU, dear reader.

But I do find myself getting a little squinty eyed at the lady in Target buying hot pink applesauce, purple sports drink and something called Icy Blue Fruit Gushers. I don’t want to get squinty eyed, but I can’t help it. Because now I know what a difference we can make in the lives of our kids – and our own lives, really – by eliminating these chemicals from their diets. (If you missed it last week, here’s the story of how food dye almost stole our son and destroyed our family. Really. Sometimes I exaggerate. It’s shocking, I know. But this time: No exaggeration. That’s how powerful these colored chemicals are.

So, today, after being asked countless times by concerned parents, what products ARE safe if their kids love Disney Princess Fruit Snacks, I headed to Target to share just a sampling of the options on the shelves. (I’ll hit some other stores in the coming weeks and go in depth when I launch my “food dyes are the devil” web site in the next couple of months.)

Here’s a little “taste” of what’s dangerous and what’s not. (I’ve noted products that contain corn syrup [CS] and high fructose corn syrup [HFCS] as well.)

Yes: Materne GoGo Squeez Applesauce on the Go, all flavors.
No: Market Pantry Strawberry Applesauce (red 40, HFCS).

Mac ‘n Cheese
Yes: Annie’s Homegrown. Varieties include Shells & White Cheddar, Shells & Real Aged Cheddar, Rice Pasta & Cheddar, 5 Grain Elbows & White Cheddar.
Yes: Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Dinner Organic. Cheddar or White Cheddar.
No: Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Dinner (yellow 5, yellow 6).
No: Market Pantry Macaroni & Cheese Dinner (yellow 5, yellow 6).

Snack Crackers
Yes: Pepperidge Farm Baked Snack Crackers Colors (natural colors from sources such as watermelon juice!).
No: Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Flavor Blasted Vanilla Cupcake Grahams (yellow 6, blue 1, red 40).

Cereal Bars
Yes: Kashi Soft Baked Cereal Bars; strawberry, blackberry, cherry vanilla.
No: Nutri Grain Cereal Bars; strawberry, cherry raspberry, mixed berry (red 40, caramel color, red 40, blue 1, HFCS). NOTE: The box says “Made with Real Fruit.” Don’t be fooled.
No: Market Pantry Cereal Bars; strawberry, mixed berry (red 40, blue 1, HFCS).

Fruit Snacks (“Gummies” as my son calls them)
Yes: Florida’s Natural Au’Some Organic Nuggets; Berrilicious, Fruit Grove flavors.
Yes: Mott’s All Natural Fruit Snacks (CS, gelatin).
No: Market Pantry Fruit Snacks (too many dyes to list, really).
No: Kellogg’s Fruit Flavored Snacks; varieties include Toy Story, Disney Fairies, Finding Nemo, Phineas & Ferb, etc.).
No: Welch’s Fruit Snacks (red 40, yellow 5, blue 1 to name a few).

Avoid pickles, especially Vlasic, Market Pantry and Mt. Olive brands. They all contain yellow 5. Check the refrigerated section of your grocery store for brands that might not contain dye or buy organic brands.

Final warning (for now), watch out for colored salad dressings. Definitely add to your “avoid” list: Kraft Catalina (red 40, blue 1) and Kraft Green Goddess (yellow 5, blue 1).

Editor/writer Brooke Bernard’s two kids have been on a synthetic food dye-free diet for about two years. Email her your colorful questions at 

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