Understanding How Red and Yellow May Be The Cause of Your Stomach Aches

Is it your imagination or after eating certain foods do you feel sick?  In fact there are ingredients that may not agree with many people, such as wheat, lactose, soy and even additives.  Among the additives that are often a source of food intolerances and allergies are food dyes, MSG and Sulfites.  

While great care is taken by the Food and Drug Association to insure that all ingredients are safe to eat, there are many people who remain sensitive to some of the additives.

  Food dye allergies are rare, being found in only about 4 percent of people with allergies, but they still can be the source of great concern.  Allergic reactions have been found in three dyes in particular:  Carmine, FD&C Yellow #5 and Annatto.

Carmine, also known as natural red 4, is actually derived from the scale of dried insects.  While this seems odd, it has been used in food since the 16th century.  Red dye number 4 is found in foods such as burgers and sausages, drinks and candy. Typically it is found in foods with shades of red, pink or purple.  This allergy has been reported to result in both minor and significant reactions, including anaphylaxis. 

FD&C Yellow #5, also known as tartrazine, is one of two yellow food dye allergies.  The symptoms associated with this allergy include reports of hives and swelling. This dye is often found in candy, canned vegetables, cheese, ice cream, ketchup, and hot dogs.


Annatto is the other yellow food dye that has been associated with allergies.  It comes from the seeds of the achiote tree and it is responsible for giving foods a yellow-orange color.  Reports of several cases of anaphylactic reactions have been associated with this dye.  Annatto can be found in cereals, cheeses, snack foods and drinks.

It is important for those with food dye allergies to realize that this allergy is not limited to just food and medications.  Many personal care products, such as soaps and lotions, as well as cosmetics like eyeshadow, blush and nail polish, can also contain these same dyes. The same is true for household products as well, such as cleaning supplies, crayons and shampoo.  Being familiar with how to read labels and what products to pay attention to are both very important for those with food dye allergies. 

Those who are having food dye reactions may experience mild or severe reactions.  Among the most common symptoms you will find reactions such as: headaches, itchy skin, swelling of the face or hives.  Severe reactions are similar to those of other food allergy reactions such as difficulty breathing, dizziness, fainting, low blood pressure and trouble breathing.  As in other allergic reactions anaphylaxis can result, so immediate medical attention should be sought at the first sign of a reaction.


Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavor enhancer and is often found to be an additive in many foods or used in cooking.  When consumed in large amounts it can cause adverse effects on those who are sensitive to it.  Among the signs of a reaction you might experience a feeling of warmth, flushing, headaches and chest pain.  Quite often MSG is found in Chinese cuisine, so those sensitive to this additive must request that it is excluded from the food preparation.

Another additive that may cause an allergic reaction are Sulfites, which might occur naturally or be added to enhance crispness or to prevent it from spoiling. Sulfites are often used as a preservative in many foods and beverages. Sulfites can be found in such things as wine, beer and dried fruits.  For those with allergies or intolerances, especially consumed in high amounts, people often find they experience difficulty in breathing. This is of even greater concern for those with asthma, who already are predisposed to difficulty in breathing.  

While food allergies are often diagnosed through blood tests, there are no tests available to diagnose a food dye, MSG or Sulfite allergy.  For this reason one must keep a reliable diary of foods they eat and reactions that may result.  This will then help them to determine which food additive may be the cause of such a reaction. 

The only way to treat any of these allergies is plain and simple: to avoid them in entirety.  It is important to be sure to read labels not only on foods and medications, but on personal, household and cosmetic items as well.  Once you are sure to remove these from your lifestyle, you should be symptom free. 

Continue Reading