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4 Bumps

Blues in the News (again)

Blues in the News (again)

The two colors Brilliant Blue* and Patent Blue** are widely used in many products: food, medicine, toiletries, and cosmetics. Now researchers are asking manufacturers to remove these colorings from hard candies because the long contact with the tongue causes them to be absorbed directly into the bloodstream where they have been shown to prevent respiration of the mitochondria in human cells. Since mitochondria are the tiny energy factories in cells, injuring them is not good.
  * Brilliant Blue is called FD&C Blue 1 in the US, and E133 in Europe.
** Patent Blue is not permitted in food here, but is 
    allowed in Europe where it is called E131.

About ten years ago, Blue 1 was found to be dangerous when used in hospital tube feedings, sometimes causing refractory shock, metabolic acidosis, and death. Although intestines are not supposed to absorb much dye, it was discovered that people who were sick had greater intestinal permeability, allowing the coloring to be absorbed. When the autopsy of these patients were done, their intestines were bright blue. 

A new study just published in the journalFood and Chemical Toxicology, shows that blue toiletries such as after-shave lotions and deodorants, which stay on the skin all day, can be absorbed through the skin, especially if it is used right after shaving. Even more is absorbed if the product contains alcohol. 

Worse, the researchers have shown that it only takes 20 minutes of licking or sucking on a blue candy for a significant amount of the dye to go deeply into the tongue. From there, the many blood vessels in the tongue bring the dye directly into the bloodstream, bypassing both digestion and the liver, which would normally deactivate some of it. The authors conclude that while the use of blue-colored toiletries after shaving the face or underarms is not very dangerous the first time, continuing to use it for years would be "worrisome." Their second conclusion is that because both dyes pass through the tongue membrane easily, these colors should not be used for candy that will be licked or sucked. 

Finally, the authors suggest more of the same kind of research should be done to see how much of the other synthetic dyes can pass directly through the skin or tongue into the blood. 


Asked by fiatpax at 10:34 AM on Jan. 19, 2013 in Health

Level 46 (221,572 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (4)
  • Thank you for posting this. I have been very careful with avoiding dyes with my Son. He has shown adverse reactions after drinking some juices especially Juicy Juice (not the apple juice). He'll start to show anxiety, upset & hyperactivity. My Daughter is very young & she got a hold of a candy necklace & was sucking on it & her entire mouth turned blue like the photo above. I actually took a warm wash cloth & cleaned off her tongue. No more candy necklaces now. Thanks again!


    Answer by ILovemyPaulie at 11:40 AM on Jan. 19, 2013

  • I hate when my kids eat a sucker or candy that changes their tongue... we very RARELY have any blue ones but even the green or orange or some other color kind of bug me.

    Answer by DreainCO at 11:12 AM on Jan. 19, 2013

  • No more blue M and M's? Wasn't red bad too for a while?

    Answer by jeanclaudia at 1:29 PM on Jan. 19, 2013

  • blue not the only bad one

    Comment by fiatpax (original poster) at 2:20 PM on Jan. 19, 2013