Happy St. Patrick's Day! Can I interest you in a shamrock cookie covered in what appears to be grass green acrylic paint? A beer the color of swamp water? I know, I know, St. Patrick's Day comes but once a year. A little bit of artificial color -- FD&C Green No. 3, to be exact -- never hurt anybody ... did it?
Well, probably not. Since we're only talking about a little bit, chances are the casual St. Patrick's Day Green No. 3-consumer doesn't have to worry about most of the risks associated with food dye, like ADHD in kids or even cancer, which was recently linked to the caramel color used in some sodas. (Coke actually changed its secret recipe in response to the mass freakout over that one.)
Still, there is one very unpleasant possible side effect of artificial food dye that's almost immediate -- and most people don't even know about it.
Allergies to food dyes are more common than you might think, and even when somebody has a food dye allergy they don't always realize what's causing their symptoms. Usually worse in children, these can include anything from hives to a rash to difficulty breathing.
I've grown out of most of my artificial food coloring allergies, but all the way through my teens I avoided things like Hawaiian punch, Starburst and cherry popsicles -- better to skip the rainbow of "fruit-flavored" candy or whatever else to than break out in unsightly hives.
But I do know people who never got over their food dye allergies, and while their reactions aren't life-threatening, they're annoying and uncomfortable.
So just a head's up for all you green beer-imbibers: Don't blame the luck o' the Irish if your lips get swollen and itchy halfway through a pint -- blame the food dye.
Have you ever had an allergic reaction to artificial food dye?
Image via SpaceAgeSage/Flickr