Understanding Food Dye Allergies

What is Food Dye Allergy?

Food dye allergy is a type of food intolerance where the body reacts to certain colors or dyes used in processed foods. There are different types of food dye sensitivities: Red color allergy – This occurs when someone suffers from an allergy to red foods such as tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, etc. Blue color allergy – This happens when someone suffers from an allergy to blue foods such as berries, citrus fruits, apples, pears, grapes, peaches and strawberries. Yellow color allergy – This occurs when someone suffers from an allergy to yellow foods such as carrots, corn or peas. Green color allergy – This occurs when someone suffers from an allergy to green foods such as spinach or lettuce.

How Long Does it Take for Food Dye To Leave Your System?

The time it takes for food dye to leave your system depends on the amount of exposure to the dye. If you eat a meal with lots of red food dye, then it will take longer than if you ate a meal without any red food dye. However, there is no definite rule about how long it takes for the reaction to occur. Some people experience reactions within minutes while others may not have any symptoms at all until they consume other foods containing the same colored ingredients.

Symptoms Of Blue Food Dye Allergy

Those who suffer from a severe allergy to blue food dye may experience these symptoms: Difficulty breathing

Wheezing or difficulty breathing



Confusion or feeling faint (from low blood pressure)

Severe skin rashes, hives or itchy welts (from histamine release)

Tightening of the throat or sensation of a lump in the throat (from histamine release causing the throat to constrict)

Flushed face (from histamine release causing blood to rush to the face)

Swelling of the lips, tongue or inside of the mouth (from histamine release)

Difficulty swallowing (from swelling or tightness in the throat) If you think you or someone you know is experiencing a reaction that involves any of these symptoms, seek emergency medical attention.

Watery Eyes and Runny Nose (From Histamine Release)

Blue food dye allergy symptoms that may be less serious, but more common include: Watery eyes

Runny nose

Slight cough

Itchy throat or mouth

Shortness of breath (only if you have asthma or another respiratory condition and the symptoms are made worse)

How to Avoid Blue Food Dye Allergy?

Some of the most common blues foods contain: Blueberries



Blue raspberry or lemonade drinks

Fat free potato chips If you have a blue food dye allergy and are concerned about cross-contamination, speak to your doctor or allergist about ways to handle this issue. You can also check the packaging of foods you buy to see if they contain any of these ingredients. Many times the ingredient is written as ‘color’ or ‘food coloring’ rather than naming the specific color. If this is the case, you will need to contact the manufacturer of the food product to find out if they use any of the colors you are allergic to.

Diagnosing a Blue Food Dye Allergy

If you think you might be allergic to blue food dyes, see your doctor or an allergist for testing. There are several different kinds of allergy tests that can help determine if this is the case. During the test, you will be injected with a low dose of the allergen and then monitored for reactions. Most of these tests involve small needles that inject a small amount of fluid, however, some doctors use a scratch test that involves no needles at all.

How to Treat a Blue Food Dye Allergy

If you are diagnosed with a blue food dye allergy, your doctor can prescribe medication to help treat mild reactions and emergency treatment for more serious cases. It is important to always carry your medication with you. If you experience any of the more serious symptoms listed above, seek immediate medical attention.

Outlook and Prognosis

Most people who are diagnosed with a blue food dye allergy will be able to manage their symptoms with proper treatment measures. If you experience hives or swelling after consuming a food product, make sure to identify the specific allergen and inform your doctor or allergist about which one caused the reaction so your diagnosis can be as accurate as possible.

The prognosis for blue food dye allergy is good, but it is always best to prevent a minor allergy from becoming major by taking the proper precautions. Always carry your medication and be sure to monitor yourself for symptoms. If you experience any of the more serious symptoms listed above seek immediate medical attention.

Sources & references used in this article:

Controversial practices in allergy by MH Grieco – Jama, 1982 – jamanetwork.com

Food allergens by DD Metcalfe – Clinical Reviews in Allergy, 1985 – Springer

Contact allergy to food by RR Brancaccio, MS Alvarez – Dermatologic therapy, 2004 – Wiley Online Library