Food Coloring Allergy

Have you experienced flushing or hives after eating certain processed foods? Then may be allergic to food coloring. Other mild symptoms of a food coloring allergy include headaches and itchy skin. More severe allergic reactions are facial swelling, tightness in chest, difficulty breathing, and anaphylaxis. The major food dyes responsible for food coloring allergies are tartrazine (FD&C yellow #5), carmine (red #4), and annatto.

Tartrazine is a synthetic food coloring used to imitate the color yellow. It causes the most allergic reactions of all the food coloring. Carmine gives food products their red color. It is the main dye found in red meat. Annatto gives food products their yellow or orange color. It is a natural food dye and not listed as a separate ingredient, but can still cause severe allergic reactions.

It is difficult to diagnose a food coloring allergy, but an allergist can conduct provocation or elimination tests. Provocation allergy testing is exposing an individual to an allergen in a clinical setting to see if it evokes an allergic reaction. In contrast, elimination allergy testing is removing certain foods from an individual’s diet to see if allergy symptoms subside.

While the best course of action is to visit an allergist, you should also avoid certain foods if you believe you have a food coloring allergy. We understand that navigating through any food allergy is difficult; so, we have provided a list of foods that contain major food coloring responsible for allergies.



Frozen Meat and Fish Some wines and liqueurs Jam/Jelly
Soft and Fruit Drinks Hard Candy Condiments
Yogurt Instant Pudding Processed Cheese
Ice Cream Cake Mixes Crackers/ Chips
Canned Fruit Pastries Cereals



Organic Fruits Eggs Oats
Organic Vegetables Organic Cheese and other Dairy products Rice
Local Fresh Fish Wheat Grains Quinoa



If you have a food coloring allergy, it is important to read all labels of the products you are consuming. The allergists at NY Allergy & Sinus Centers can help you determine which food colorings to steer clear of. We have easy access to the latest technology to diagnose and relieve your headaches, itchy skin, and other symptoms related to food coloring allergy. We also offer personalized treatment plans to our patients in six convenient offices throughout Manhattan: Murray Hill, Midtown, Upper West Side, Chelsea, Upper East Side, and in Queens: Glendale.

Call 212-686-4448 to book your appointment today.


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    Our premier team of allergists offer state-of-the-art methods for diagnosis and treatment of allergies and sinus conditions. Our NY Allergy & Sinus Centers perform Allergy Skin and Blood Testing, Food Allergy Testing, Patch Testing, and Immunotherapy, and often a same-day diagnosis is possible.

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