Articles by Natural Health Author Jaime A. Heidel

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Is Tartrazine Intolerance Causing Your Mystery Symptoms?

by Jaime A. Heidel
See all TBYIL articles by Jaime A. Heidel

(The Best Years in Life) Tartrazine is the second most commonly used food dye, and it can be found in a broad range of foods, cosmetics, and other personal care products. Although rare, tartrazine intolerance does exist, and it can cause some very real health problems. Those who are sensitive to salicylates and aspirin, as well as those with allergies and asthma are more susceptible to developing this food allergy.

Symptoms of Tartrazine Intolerance

Like other food sensitivities, tartrazine intolerance can be difficult to diagnose because it often causes sporadic and varied symptoms. For example, it's easy to confuse intolerance to this food additive with hay fever, ADHD, IBS, or a neurological condition.

The interesting thing about tartrazine intolerance is that the allergy usually manifests as an increased reaction to other allergens, rather than as a direct reaction to the additive itself.

Common symptoms of tartrazine include, but are not limited to:

  • Skin rashes

  • Hives

  • Nasal congestion

  • Asthma

  • Gastrointestinal issues

  • Central nervous system dysfunction

  • Hyperactivity

  • Insomnia

  • Non-thrombocytopenic purpura (red or purple discoloration of the skin)


Where Tartrazine is Commonly Found


Tartrazine is found in so many different foods, it would almost be easier to tell you where you won't find it.

However, so you get the basic idea, this food additive is commonly found in soft drinks, snack chips, pickles, gelatin, candy, pudding, flavored milk, yogurt, frosting, popsicles, breakfast cereal, margarine, orange cheese products, boxed macaroni and cheese, gelatin, flavored “juice” drinks, and pre-packaged baked goods.


Even if you avoid highly-processed foods, you could still be exposing yourself to tartrazine by taking certain medications. Medications that have a yellow or orange hue to them, including ibuprofen, antacids, and cough syrup all have the potential to contain this dye. Certain vitamins do, as well.

Personal Care Products

Certain liquid soaps, hand sanitizers, perfumes, shampoos, nail polishes, and lotions may contain tartrazine.

Arts and Crafts Supplies

You can even find this yellow dye in art supplies such as inks, crayons, stamp dyes, and glues.

Is Tartrazine Lurking in Your Products?

To avoid accidental exposure during the elimination process, it's important to know what other names this yellow dye can be found under.

Check your labels carefully.

If you see Yellow 23, Food Yellow 4, Yellow #5, E102, FD&C Yellow 5, Acid Yellow 23, FD&C Blue 1, E133, Green S E142, or trisodium 1-(4-sulfonatophenyl)-4-(4-sulfonatophenylazo)-5-pyrazolone-3-carboxylate), the product contains/may contain tartrazine and should be avoided.

How to Test for Tartrazine Intolerance

There is a blood test called Tartrazine Yellow #5 IgE that you can ask your health care provider to run for you. Although, be warned. Sometimes, food allergy blood tests reveal a false negative.

If you really want to know if tartrazine sensitivity is causing your mystery symptoms, eat a whole-food diet for six weeks.

This means weaning off the junk food and loading up on foods like organic produce, meat, poultry, wild-caught fish, eggs, beans, rice, nuts, seeds, cheese, yogurt, and butter.

Any “treats” you consume such as candy or soda must be organic to avoid accidental exposure to this food dye.

After the six-week period is over, eat something containing tartrazine to see how you react. If nothing happens, try a bit more.

Note: If you're prone to anaphylaxis, reintroduce foods in the presence of your health care provider to ensure your safety.

Tartrazine intolerance is much less common than sensitivity to lactose or gluten, which is why you don't hear about it very often. However, if you are sensitive to this dye and remove it from your diet and environment, it may be the final step you need to take to achieve the vibrant health you've been striving for!

See also:

‘Natural’ Food Additive Behind Behavior Problems in Children and IBS in Adults

What You Need to Know about the Dirty Dozen Food Additives

Additives in Bread Linked to a Host of Health Problems

80% of the Packaged Food Items on Our Grocers Shelves Contain Ingredients Banned in Other Countries


About the author:

Jaime is a professional freelance writer with a passion for natural health and wellness and she is also the author of Life Beyond Chronic Pain: The Step-by-Step Guide to Healing Chronic Illness Naturally. Her website, I Told You I Was Sick, was created to help those living with chronic pain and illness find natural ways to heal.

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