Red Dye #40 Made me sick, again!

by Meg on January 2, 2012

I wanted to start the new year by of course blogging yesterday. However, par for the course, I ended up getting sick instead. The culprit being Red Dye #40 (aka Allura Red) in Chambord that I had with my two glasses of champagne and a mixed cocktail. I’ve been so careful to avoid Red 40 since I was in grade school, but for some reason I didn’t even think to check Chambord.

How do I even know I have an intolerance to Red 40? Cherry Flavored Jolly Ranchers

When I was in third or forth grade, I started to be more cognoscente of things that might actually make me get sick. Mostly simple things like not washing hands, sharing drinks with people who were sick, etc. Around this time I noticed that whenever I had a cherry or watermelon jolly rancher, I got a really bad sore throat and ended up getting sick that day or the next day. I decided to mention this to my doctor, thinking that he would think I was crazy. He simply looked at me and told me I had an intolerance to Red Dye #40.

Sure enough, I noticed that whenever I drank Fruit Punch, had anything cherry flavored, or consumed anything that had Red Dye 40 – a sore throat would ensue. The worst by far was whenever I would drink or suck on something (turns out almost ALL the cough medicines and throat drops contain Red 40 like Robitussin).

Fast forward to at least 15 years of mostly free Red 40 consumption and to me and the Chambord drinks. Within 2-3 hours of ingesting it, I woke up to my throat absolutely on fire. All day yesterday I had aches, a fever as high as 102, and a sore throat. Classic symptoms that look like strep throat. However, I remember from my days as a little girl, the results for a strep test would always come back negative.

My fever broke mostly this morning, but about an hour ago it decided to creep back up in addition to my ears hurting like crazy (with my throat still going). I’ve talked with a nurse on the phone and waiting to see if the symptoms continue/get worse before going in to see a doctor.

Anyhow, for all those people who have a doctor unlike my pediatrician, and tell you that food dye allergies/intolerance are not real, know you’re not alone. Apparently doing Google searches now reveal that a lot of children have mood issues, hives, and horrible stomach issues after eating it. It’s even been banned in quite a few European counties.

A little of an FYI / word of mouth. I think doctors generally know best, but the FDA tends to not. It’s scary the amount of things they approve for us, mostly because Big Food and Big Pharma keep buying our government.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Marcia January 2, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Red #40 is made from petroleum but so are the other synthetic dyes–red #3, blue 1 & @, Green #1, and Yellow 5. The Red 40 is just used in greater quantities. I would stay away from all of them.


Stacey Putts February 16, 2012 at 3:27 pm

My son has a tolerance to red 40, valentine’s day is not a good day for him because of all the red and pink candy!


Marcia February 16, 2012 at 5:10 pm

You would find the support group Feingold Association helpful. The website is


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Amaya November 21, 2012 at 7:20 am

Heh, we can get sick all we want we’re just not allowed to stop being moms long eognuh to recover. I hope you’re not getting whatever was going around our neck of the woods a coule weeks back. I’ve still got gunk in my head because of it.If it will make you feel any better, at least you’re not hopping around the house with a twisted ankle (that I got chasing one of the kids).Samantha


Lora October 31, 2012 at 10:50 pm

My daughter gets hives from Yellow #5 all of a sudden at age 8 1/2. She’s had exczema since she was a baby on and off and we could only use All Free and Clear detergent as other detergents would give her worse cases of this. Eliminated all food dyes after eating green popcorn and drinking green powerade. She had hives for 24 hours after each episode. Now she has NO exczema or scratching. Her moods are better, she used to have night terrors and they are gone. Just looking to see who else has seen this in their kids!


Rhonda October 28, 2013 at 1:01 pm

When you say sore throat, do you see ulcers? I have noticed a association between fire balls and getting ulcers on my soft pallet and down my throat. Didn’t think about the dye…


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