|MadSci Network: Cell Biology|
No substance proven to be a carcinogen in man or animal can be used in food products (Delaney Clause amendment to Food Additives Act). No food coloring is a "proven" carcinogen. Over the years, most of the older food colors have been replaced with those accepted to be safer. The only food color with controversy about it that's still in use is Red #3. "Certified Food Colors" must be produced under FDA regulations and "certified" to that effect with a letter of guarantee. These food colorings are widely used in a number of foods, chiefly those associated with voluntary consumption (Jello, beverages, candies, bakery items, snacks, etc.) rather than normal meal items. I sympathize with your desire to minimize inclusion of extraneous additives with no other purpose than color. Although I don't believe these colorants are unsafe in modest quantitites even over an extended period of time, you might be happier in using "natural" colorants as a substitute if young children are involved. Carotene will make an orange color, and can be extracted from carrots. Beet juice (from canned beets) will make a nice red color. Blueberries make blue dyes. Etc. If you then add a dye, it's got a nutritious purpose as well. Be careful in trying to make your own colorants when feeding infants and children under 2 years old. Uncanned vegetables may cause "infant botulism" or other unknown agricultural contaminants may cause other problems. Certified food colors have received a lot of attention for safety and so are the "devils we know". Substituting uninvestigated additives may end up with the "devils we don't know".
Try the links in the MadSci Library for more information on Cell Biology.