How often do you consume ‘red’ snacks?

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Do you consume m&m’s, gatorade, doritos, and cheetos, regularly? That means you consume red 40 on a weekly basis. Everyone has heard of red 40 to some extent, but what really is it? 

Red 40 is a synthetic additive made from petroleum and makes some snacks have that addicting red color. It’s allowed in America, but other countries like the United Kingdom and Switzerland have seen the negative effects of red 40 and banned it completely. Red 40 is potentially bad for all of us, but specifically some studies suggest that for children with adhd it worsens symptoms.

A lot of people here at Washington High School consume red 40 daily, specifically in chips like takis and hot cheetos. Vrunda Patel, a senior at WHS, has admitted that she consumes red 40, and dyes similar to it, almost every single day. “The other day I was at Jack in the Box and they have these new spicy tacos and the tacos are like bright red…honestly it’s more appealing to eat stuff like that,” she says. Companies in America advertise food by making them extremely red with red 40. And it works: it’s addicting and kids especially cannot resist red food that tastes good. 

These foods with red 40 aren’t just addicting to teens and younger. Adults also fall victim to them. Forty-one year old Najia Hussain, an adamant consumer of red 40, also mentions how she consumes it often and how hard it is to avoid it since it is in every food. She mentions how she knows it’s “unhealthy and carcinogenic” and would be better banned. Red dye contains benzene, a substance known to cause cancer. Although the levels of it are small enough to be considered safe by health authorities, many believe that  it’s best to keep this dye away from kids. 

There are other dyes similar to red 40 that have the same negative effects. Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 are two  of them. They are artificial food dyes added to processed pastries, colored soda, and colored candy. The dyes similarly affect activity and attention in children, much worse than a simple sugar rush  affects kids. Research shows that the removal of artificial dyes from children’s diet would be about ⅓  to ½ as effective as treatment with Ritalin. Yellow 5 damages human white blood cells, and the cells can’t fix themselves, which could lead to tumor growth and diseases like cancer. This is the reason it’s banned in Austria and Norway.

Many feel that America should follow in Europe’s footsteps, and remove these dyes from foods, specifically food advertised to children.

Hanya Hussain is a senior at Washington High School. She was born in Hayward, but has lived in Fremont all her life. This is her first year at the paper and she's really excited to participate in the Hatchet. She's interested in writing about other people and their perspectives in life. She is a cheerleader and loves to hang out with her friends in her free time. She also likes to take walks and go on hikes whenever she can. In college, she wants to study criminal justice.

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