Tuesday June 05, 2012 | 03:55 PM

My daughter is really into fiber. She has her own sheep and spins their fleece into yarn. A friend suggested she try dyeing her white roving with a packet of Kool-Aid because it offers great, permanent color.

And she did get some nice colors with Lemon & Lime, Cherry and Orange Kool-Aid.

The wool absorbed all the color after 30 minutes of soaking and left only clear water in the pan. It was remarkable... and gave me pause about what these dyes are sticking to inside our bodies.
The roving absorbed all the Kool-Aid color and left the liquid clear in the pan.
I think many parents know food dyes are not good for their kids. But that generally doesn't prevent many (including me) from buying products with food dyes simply for convenience or because our kids beg us for a particular item marketed to appeal to them.

The FDA has a whole section on its website about food dyes, and how companies apply to the FDA  to use them in food products. It's actually quite interesting to read how food dyes are regulated. There is a study of "Low" "Concern Level" and "High" about what is approved within this governmental risk management assessment.

I don't put much stock in what the FDA believes is safe after my discovery a while back about this particular "natural flavoring" tidbit – Safety assessment of castoreum extract as a food ingredient.

If you follow that link you'll find that 'castoreum' is expressed from the anal gland of a beaver. It is legal, according to the FDA, to label this ingredient in food as a "natural flavor." It might be natural but it's not something I care to actually ingest.

So when the FDA offers information about a risk assessment of food dyes, I'm a little wary.

A couple of sources I found to learn more about food dyes includes:

The Center for Science in the Public Interest offers a roundup of information about food dyes.

Label Watch also offers some information about ingredients in foods that consumers should be wary about and make other product choices.

There is plenty of information about both sides of the food dye debate on the web so if you have a source you think is good, and credible, post a comment below to share it.

My reality is that there will be times when my kids and I are going to eat something with food dyes because we're eating on the run and didn't have time to make something at home. My plan though is to ensure that it is as infrequent as possible because my daughter's wool dyeing project was an eye-opener for me.

And I will still buy Kool-aid. I'll just store it in the craft closet.


About the Author

Wendy Almeida has been writing about enjoying the outdoors with kids in her monthly Kid Tracks Outdoors column for the Maine Sunday Telegram for 10 years. Her kids have grown up exploring the trails of Maine on foot, skis and bikes as well as through the geocache and EarthCache games. The family has found treasures of all sorts while out on the trail and the journey continues to be as much fun now that the kids are teenagers as it was when they were preschoolers.

On Twitter and Instagram at @wea1021.

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