When we first began this journey over 5 years ago, one of the first things I noticed was that just because something was WHITE, it didn’t mean it was dye free.
We quickly discovered that a lot of white food products were made using blue food coloring.
For centuries, people have used “bluing” to whiten their whites when doing laundry. I’ve even seen some foreign clothes detergents that contain “bluing” crystals. While in theory it sounds crazy, it kind of makes sense from an artists perspective. If you look on Wikipedia, it says that white fabrics acquire a slight color cast after use. You know how that old white tshirt sometimes turns gray? By adding a bit of blue color to the slightly off white color of a fabric, this makes them appear whiter. Many white fabrics are “blued” during manufacturing. Bluing is not permanent and rinses out over time leaving dingy or yellowed whites.
Ok, science/art lesson is over. How is this relevant to food?
Believe it or not, food manufacturers use the same exact process to make their whites whiter. The most common example is marshmallows. Not the colored ones, the WHITE ones. The plain white marshmallows. I have looked at nearly every store and the only ones I have been able to find to date are HEB’s Hill Country Fare brand, Aldi store brand and Walmart’s Great Value brand. I have noticed that store brands tend to have more products WITHOUT food dye, whereas the national name brands tend to include them. It seems that it would be quite the opposite, since I would guess adding a food dye would be more of an expense. If anyone has an answer to that one, please let me know.
This also includes most treats made with marshmallows, you know the rice cereal bars with marshmallows? Yep, those too. Check those hot chocolate packets with mini marshmallows as well as cereals, boxed snacks, and pretty much anything that includes marshmallows or marshmallow ingredients.
Not sure what you’re looking for? In this case, look for BLUE #1. Dyes are sometimes the last item on the ingredients list. ***This is not always the case, I’ve found lots of products with the dye buried very deep in the ingredient list*** By law, the item has to list any artificial food coloring and it will have a number by it. There are other blue food colorings, but these are typically used for candies such as M&Ms.
While a quick google search will lead you to a few online candy stores that carry dye free marshmallows, just know that there are some great store options out there. We do try and eat organic when possible, but the cost of organic marshmallows is usually nuts, so by at least eliminating the dye, you are getting one less nasty ingredient. If you are here, reading my blog, you probably already have a good idea that dyes are pretty, but NOT good for you.
I always love to hear from you guys, so if you know of any more marshmallow brands or products that are dye free, please let me know in the comments or on my Facebook page!