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Picking Pickles: Artificial Dyes in Pickles

It may be surprising that the majority of major brand jarred pickles are artificially colored with Yellow Dye #5 and/or Yellow Dye #6.  When I recently scanned the supermarket shelves every Vlasic, Mt. Olive and B&G pickle product listed artificial yellow dye(s) in their ingredient list.

Two artificial yellow dyes are currently approved for use in foods, drugs and cosmetics by the FDA including Tartrazine (FD&C Yellow #5) and Sunset Yellow (FD&C Yellow #6). Both have been associated with potential negative health effects.

The Tartrazine Scene (Yellow #5)

Tartrazine is a water soluble artificial dye also known as FD&C Yellow #5. Once you start looking, Tartrazine is everywhere. A partial list of the foods that contain Tartrazine includes cake, pudding, biscuits, cookies, muffins, bread, pie crusts, frostings, candy, gums, ice cream, beverages, cereal, instant waffles, yogurt, chips, crackers, salad dressing, pickles, cheeses, dips, fast foods, prepared dried and frozen entrees and sides. (See IATB Brain Food Selector). It is also found in vitamins, soaps, and shampoos.

According to CBS News IN DEPTH Food Safety Food Additives Facts (September 29th, 2008):

Tartrazine, a yellow food dye used in ice cream, soft drinks and fish sticks. It is a sodium salt and contains more salt than the human body can handle. Besides hyperactivity, research has linked it to asthma, skin rashes, and migraines. This product is banned in Norway and Austria.

Sunset Yellow (Yellow #6)

Sunset Yellow is an artificial dye also known as FD&C Yellow #6. It generates an orange to yellow hue in foods and may be combined with other artificial colors such as FD&C Yellow #5.A partial list of foods that contain Sunset Yellow includes orange soda, jams and jellies, baked goods, dessert mixes, cookies, frosting, cereal, candies, gum, beverages, soup mixes, margarine, chips, macaroni and cheese mix, condiments, prepared chicken nuggets. See IATB Brain Food Selector.

Reported side effects of Sunset Yellow include gastric upset, hives, runny nose, allergies, hyperactivity, incidence of tumors in animals, mood swings, headache.

According to CBS News IN DEPTH Food Safety Food Additives Facts (September 29th, 2008):

Sunset yellow, a dye used in yogurts and sweets. This product is banned in Norway and Finland

So if you are part of the particular people who are picky about partaking in pure pickle products and who are peeved to ponder this pickle predicament then WhyDye is pleased to provide perspective and to point to pleasing and prize-wining pickle products and producers. (In no particular order):

Artificial Dye-Free Pickles

McClure’s Pickles:Winner of the 2011 Good Foods Award. Pickle products including Spicy Spears, Garlic and Dill and relish. All natural ingredients with no added colors. Made in the U.S.A.  Check Mcclurespickles.com for retailer closest to you.

Hengstenberg:  Crunchy Gherkins and Barrel Pickles.  All natural ingredients. Natural colors. Made in Germany. Sold at Shop Rite.

Trader Joe’s: Organic Sweet Bread and Butter Pickles, Kosher Dill Pickles, Cornichons and relish. All natural colors and flavors. Made in the U.S.A. Sold at Trader Joe’s.


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Comments (6)

  1. Joan Spieth, January 30, 2012
    Thank you for the informative research you are doing.I am trying to cut unneeded artifical additives to my food. This is something I had no idea was artifically colored. I will cut out the brands that have the color added. Thank you, keep up the good work Reply
  2. Richard Williams, January 31, 2012
    after reading your informative article , I checked my bag of healthy trail mix which contained 2 kinds of yellow dye . really surprised, it was in the dried fruit . i don't see why dye is put into good food and can't understand how the fda can consider it safe. thank you for your information Reply
  3. Diane Younker, February 7, 2012
    Hi Unbelievable that company's are putting these additives into our food. For the most part we are unaware of what they use and what it can do to us. Thanks for raising our awareness. Reply
  4. Michelle Beauregard, February 2, 2015
    Del Monte also has sweet pickles without dye. Found them at Von's in California. Reply
  5. Eva, April 6, 2017
    Wonderful article. My family was tormented by this chemical that stole many precious moments of my sons younger years. Pickles! Don't even get me started. I've been raising awareness as much as I can & I'd love to teach this to parents, kids, at schools...awareness is needed. Reply

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