The Chemistry of Food Coloring

Food coloring or food dye is a type of dye to make food look more appealing and are either made from natural or synthetic sources. I chose food coloring because I wanted to find out what all went into making my food a certain color. Food coloring affects my life because without food coloring things would look unappetizing and look just awful.

Composition of ...
Most food dye is made synthetically but, it is also made naturally. The natural way of making food dye just consists of getting the item with the color they need and grinding it. The synthetic way of producing it consists of getting the chemical from petroleum and then adding the dye to color it.

Main Chemicals, Compounds, Components
The only main chemical in synthetic food dye is Petroleum. Petroleum is a crude oil product and consists of multiple large hydrocarbons and the most common are alkaline molecules. It is often just put into the general formula of  CnH2n+2

Chemistry's Role
Chemistry’s role in the making of synthetic food dye is that millions of years ago marine organisms would die and decompose. Then after they turned into oil through that process the oil is then mined. They use a special drill to mine the oil with and then get petroleum. The petroleum is taken to places for it to be filtered for safe consumption and for a clear color. They filter it roughly four times so that it’s safe to eat then color it then use it to color food. 

Background Research

Mostly everything in the US is colored with artificial food dyes that can lead to adverse effects.

People believe food coloring affects hyperactivity in children and some research suggests that some children may be sensitive to them though

Blue Nos.1 and 2 are absorbed into the gi tract and can go into the bloodstream and cause damage

Red 3 and 40 promote tumors and are animal carcinogens and are genotoxic

Yellow 5 and 6 have similar connections to hypersensitivity

Yellow 5 is mutagenic and has random contaminants

Orange B is only allowed in use in sausage casings and studies show that it caused issues with the spleen and kidneys

Citrus red 2 is used in oranges and promotes cancer and tumors


Resources alot on natural food dyes petroleum is extracted and the chemical composition of it ton of information on both natural and synthetic food dye food dyes and what they do tiny bit on synthetic food dye the food dyes are regulated and deemed safe

About the Author

Tab Wolff is a junior at Billings Senior High School. He enjoys building things in his garage and plays in band. He will attend Kettering College when he graduates and will major in mechanical engineering.