Tartrazine, also known as FD&C Yellow #5 or E-102; an ingredient that I have taught my 4 and 6 year old to recognize on a package of candy. It provides the color yellow and as such, can also be found in green and blue candies. There is currently a petition to the FDA to ban tartrazine from food. Some schools have banned products containing tartrazine and subsequently noticed a big difference in the overall behavior of their students. Tartrazine is a coal tar derivative, like most artificial colorings, and is one of the most controversial of the azo dies used in food. Norway has banned the substance. This chemical has been linked to severe allergic reactions, especially in asthmatics and is one of the food additives thought to be a cause of hyperactivity in children.
Time and time again, tartrazine has been proven to cause many different side-effects and allergic reactions in people. These can include: anxiety, migraines, asthma attacks, blurred vision, eczema, other skin rashes, thyroid cancer, Eosinophilia (increase in specific forms of white blood cells), clinical depression, ADHD or hyperactivity, hives, permanent DNA damage, heart palpitations, rhinitis, sleep disturbances/insomnia, general all-over weakness, hot flushes and OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). In severe cases, anaphylactic-like reactions to tartrazine have also been reported. It is sometimes even fed to chickens to make their egg yolks more yellow and visually appealing!
Studies have also revealed that consuming tartrazine also aggravates and increases the symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (a painful wrist condition which is caused by the compression of the median nerve, which passes between the ligaments and bones in the wrist). The reason for this aggravation is because tartrazine interferes with the metabolism of Vitamin B6 in the body. By eliminating tartrazine from the diet, it is possible to reduce and even prevent the occurrence of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
The main reason that tartrazine is used is because of the fact that it is a cheap alternative to beta-carotene, which is 100% natural and beneficial to our health. Turmeric can also be used as an alternative colorant in savory dishes. Malt and Annatto can also replace this extremely unhealthy additive.