Just for fun, I’ve been coughing for the past ten days or so. It’s been great. Instead of talking, I cough. Instead of eating, I cough. Oh, and my favorite… Instead of sleeping, I cough.
So, I’ve been trying cough remedies of various types. But the only thing that works for longer than ten minutes is that most disgusting of liquids – cough syrup. I’d almost rather drink brake fluid.
Cough syrup is loaded with sweeteners and things to make it thick. That tricks people into thinking that it actually coats the inside of your throat and, therefore, soothes your throat and prevents you from coughing. Nonsense. They work through internal mechanisms and the “coating” sensation only lasts a couple of minutes anyway.
But the thing that bugs me most about cough syrup is the incredible amount of food coloring, or dye, they have. This is because people think cough syrup is supposed to be thoroughly colored. Why do we think that? Because cough syrup has been marketed that way for decades – long enough that we can’t imagine it any other way.
There is growing evidence that food coloring is really not so good for you. A few members of my family are downright allergic to food coloring, especially FD&C red #40, which is prominent in cough syrup and many, many other substances we ingest, such as food. And what’s worse, food colorings have been linked to cancer and other serious disorders.
You would think that pharmaceutical companies might have jumped on the “free and clear” bandwagon by now by offering things like cough syrup free of dyes and other, possibly harmful ingredients. But things have gone in exactly the opposite direction. NyQuil and Robitussin, in particular, have made their cough syrups absolutely opaque.
A few (lesser) players in the cough syrup market have either stuck with the translucent look, meaning they use less dye, and at least one has made one with no dyes, no sweeteners, and no taste-enhancers at all (this one tastes really, really bad). But the dominant brands in stores are either dark, dark blue, or dark, dark red-ish purple.
This is yet another way I wish we could collectively grow up. Maybe we are… just slowly. People have started to realize that cheddar cheese doesn’t have to be orange. People have figured out that their laundry doesn’t need to smell like a field of daisies. And some people are even realizing that their hair doesn’t need to smell like a walk through the dreaded perfume section of a department store.
Let’s take it further. Let’s all realize that things can look the way they look, and smell the way they smell. Those colors? Those smells? They are artificial, usually made from petroleum. These days, what isn’t?
After all, what are you meaning to get into your body? Nutrition or medicine. What are you trying to do to the outside of your body or to your living space? Clean it and disinfect it. Do dyes and odorants help any of these? No.
Please become one of the voices for health. Companies could make several changes that would help us all while saving themselves the extra money spent on things their customers don’t want anyway. It’s easy to contact pharmaceutical and food companies through the internet. Why not do it?
Good health to everyone!
Editor’s Note: The “Die, Food Dye!” blog (and the charming child in the photo with the blue tongue) belong to Rebecca Evans, who also spearheads a petition at http://www.diefooddye.com/petition/ Rebecca can be contacted at: admin@DieFoodDye.com and tweets at: @DieFoodDye
Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.