Can Food Dye Cause Stomach Pain?

Have you ever felt that eating certain food makes you feel uncomfortable? Is it causing stomach pain, nausea or abdominal discomfort? With the growing culture to eat outside, people have been facing food related problems that were unknown a decade ago. In between all the flavor and taste, there are hundreds of artificial agents like food dyes, colors and additives added in the restaurant food. So, can food dye cause stomach pain? This question has haunted many of us and here we try to understand certain facts related to it.

Right from candies, gravies to salad, without the color, restaurant food cannot be imagined today! Although adding colors, food dye and flavors enhance the appearance and taste of the food, it may not be very friendly for your stomach. Hence, it is important to understand about the effects of food dye on your health and to know if they can cause stomach pain.

Can Food Dye Cause Stomach Pain?

Can Food Dye Cause Stomach Pain?

So, here is the question, can food dye cause stomach pain? Well, yes, food dye and many other food additives or preservatives can cause stomach pain and other health problems. These may be more related to intolerance and allergic reactions According to a study conducted by Centre of Clinical Food Research, about four out of every ten food is found to be causing allergies. We already know there is a body defense system that fights against foreign substances that enter our body. Any food allergy occurring as a result of food dye is a mistaken response of the immune system, which can react to it like a foreign substance. In addition to causing food allergies, food dyes can also result in tumors within internal organs like kidneys, testicles, adrenal glands when not diagnosed and left untreated for a long period of time.

While the immediate effect of the food dye is a stomach pain, it definitely gets escalated in the form of other symptoms which can aggravate in intensity when not diagnosed at the right time.

The main action of food dyes on your body, which can result in stomach pain is the food intolerance and food allergies. Food intolerance which is a result of chemicals and artificial substances has been lately on rise from past thirty years. Though, the amount of people suffering from the same is mere 1 percent when accounted globally, yet the implications they can bring to health of sufferers could be detrimental.

These additives are used not only to enhance the appearance but also to make the food more tempting and addictive. In addition to food dyes, there is a whole class of other substances like emulsifiers, antioxidants, preservatives that are widely used in outside food.

Two food dyes used predominantly in beverages and snacks known to cause stomach pain and other allergic reactions are:

  • Yellow#5
  • Red#40

In addition, monosodium glutamate (MSG), gums, spices, lecithin and artificial sweeteners and flavoring substances can also cause food related allergies which require medical treatment for cure.

Other Symptoms that Accompany Stomach Caused Due to Food Dye

As food dyes can cause allergies in some people, it is necessary to know the symptoms of food allergies. The symptoms of food sensitivities triggered as a result of food dye can be varied depending upon the intensity and type of food color used. In general it could lead to:

There are some signs that can be observed in people who have a food coloring sensitivity. If you are worried if food dye can cause stomach pain, here are some more problems that can be caused by food dyes and food coloring agents. Some of the symptoms of food color allergies or sensitivity to food dyes include

Weak Concentration

Some people find it difficult to concentrate, lose attention or get distracted easily after consuming foods that contain food dye or added coloring agents.

Problems with Sleep

People who have a high vulnerability to food related allergies suffer from problems related to sleep.

Mood Swings

Another determining factor for food coloring sensitivity is a state where individuals tend to have a frequent and wide range of mood swings such as unexplained irritation, frequent meltdown, feeling paranoid, inconsolable weeping etc.


Unexplained violence or dominance, hitting, anger outbursts, talking mean are some of the characteristics found in people suffering from food dye sensitivity.

Skin Allergies

People prone to skin related ailments like rashes, eczema have a very high degree of sensitivity towards food dyes.

Some people are affected by food allergies caused by food dyes, which can cause stomach aches. But similarly, food intolerance to certain food dyes too can cause stomach aches and other complaints. Intolerance unlike allergy does not include failure on the part of body’s immune system to fight against the dye triggering reactions. Although symptoms like stomach pain, vomiting, nausea and diarrhea are similar and disturbing, it is necessary to different food allergies from food intolerance. Yellow 5 and tartrazine are most commonly used additives known to be causing irritation in people.

Diagnose Food Sensitivities Caused by Food Dyes

Presence of any signs of symptoms discussed above need immediate medical attention. The diagnosis of food allergies and food intolerance can be made after history taking, evaluation of symptoms and certain tests. Investigations to diagnose stomach pain due to food dye include blood tests, allergy tests, skin test and advanced tests, if required.

Though the reactions triggered as a result of food allergy are not life threatening, yet they can become serious and cause pain when left untreated. Hence, it is important to seek medical opinion if any of these symptoms are noted after consumption of food containing dyes and additives.

The only way to manage stomach pain caused by food dye is to know that such foods bother you and avoid them. People who are sensitive, intolerant and allergic to such food and food dyes, must follow a proper diet that excludes such foods. Also, if required, proper treatment must be planned and followed as advised by the physician to reduce the effects of symptoms of food sensitivities.