What is Red 40 Made Of?

Red 40, also known as Allura Red AC, is a synthetic food dye commonly used in a wide range of food and beverage products. It is one of nine certified color additives approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in human consumption.

Chemical Composition

Red 40 is a naphthalene sulfonic acid, specifically a disodium salt of 6-hydroxy-5-[(2-methoxy-5-methyl-4-sulfophenyl)azo]-2-naphthalenesulfonic acid. It is a dark red powder or small granules that can be dissolved in water, 50-percent-alcohol solutions, glycerol, and propylene glycol.

Manufacturing Process

Red 40 is produced through a chemical reaction involving two different types of sulfonic acids: a toluene sulfonic acid and a naphthalene sulfonic acid. This reaction results in the formation of Allura Red AC, along with calcium and potassium salts as non-colored components.

Uses of Red 40

Red 40 is primarily used to add color to food and beverage products, including:

  • Gelatins
  • Puddings
  • Beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic)
  • Dairy products
  • Frostings
  • Fruits
  • Bakery products
  • Jams
  • Condiments
  • Meat and poultry

It can also be used to color arts and crafts supplies like crayons, pens, and markers.

Safety Concerns

The FDA has deemed Red 40 safe for public consumption, but there is some controversy surrounding this ruling. Some studies have suggested that consuming certain synthetic dyes, including Red 40, may worsen symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in susceptible children. However, more research is needed to establish a conclusive link.

Alternatives to Red 40

For individuals concerned about the potential effects of Red 40, there are several natural alternatives available, such as:

  • Beet juice
  • Carrot juice
  • Paprika
  • Turmeric

Red 40 is a synthetic food dye made from petroleum that is commonly used to add color to a wide range of food and beverage products. While the FDA considers it safe for consumption, some concerns have been raised about its potential effects on children with ADHD. Individuals with concerns can opt for natural alternatives to Red 40.

What is Red Dye #40 (a.k.a. Red ?

One dye that is produced in laboratories and used as a colorant in food, cosmetics, over-the-counter medications, and even prescription drugs is called Allura red. It’s what gives sodas, sauces, and cough syrups with cherry flavors their vibrant red color. Red is frequently used to tint cosmetics and other skin-care products.

You won’t just find it in red-colored products, though. Use this food coloring to add color to a variety of treats, such as chocolate pudding, flavored chips, and pickles. The only way to determine whether something contains Red 40 is to read the label because the food dye can blend with other colors to produce different effects.

These food additives aren’t always listed with the same terms on labels, which can be confusing. These are some of the names for red food coloring that can be present in the components.

  • Red 40
  • Red No. 40
  • Red #40
  • Allura Red
  • Allura Red AC
  • FD&C Red No. 40
  • FD and C Red No. 40
  • C. I. 16035
  • C.I. Food Red 17

Red 40 Aluminum Lake or Red 40 Lake are other names for this lake. A lake is a non-water soluble chemical preparation that differs slightly from food dye. The dye base is combined with a chemical substance—in this example, aluminum hydroxide.

Common uses for red food dye lake include cosmetics, candy coatings, red medicine coatings, and other solids.

Checking Labels for Red 40 and Other Food Additives

Nutrition facts are listed on the back of food packaging, usually next to the ingredients list. Learning how to interpret the nutrition information panel can be very beneficial. It can tell you which essential nutrients the products contain and what ratios to watch out for, like the product’s sugar content.

However, you should look directly at the ingredients list if you’re trying to find red food coloring in a delicious treat. This could be to the side, directly beneath the nutrition information panel, or in another imaginative location. If the food is packaged in a box, it may be on the front or the side. It should be there—keep searching—as the FDA mandates that manufacturers provide a comprehensive list of ingredients in their products.

Artificial food coloring is usually listed at the end of the ingredient list. There are many different names for them; check out our list above for a variety of names for red dye no. 40.

The Truth About Food Dye Red 40: How It’s Made and Why It’s Bad for Your Health


What does Red 40 do to your body?

In 2008, the CSPI asked the FDA to ban red 40 and several other dyes, citing studies showing that these dyes may worsen the symptoms of ADHD in children. Red 40 has also been linked to other health problems such as migraines, hyperactivity, and hives.

What is the main ingredient in Red 40?

40 consists of a chemical compound called Allura red AC. This is a naphthalene sulfonic acid. Allura red AC typically comes in the form of a dark red powder or small granules. You can dissolve it in water, 50-percent-alcohol solutions, glycerol, and propylene glycol.

Is red dye 40 made from pork?

Yes, despite common misconceptions, Red 40 is vegan because the ingredient is not animal-derived. Instead, Red 40 is made from petroleum byproducts or coal tar.

Is red dye 40 banned in the UK?

Some examples of foods that are banned, or are not authorised for use in the UK, include: Some food colourings (including yellow no. 5 and 6, and red no. 40).

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