IRVINE, Calif. — When I was a little kid, my parents always told me not to eat the blue and red M&M’s. Ever since then, I always wondered why I couldn’t eat the red and blue ones. What about the purple, orange and yellow ones? So when the science fair came around, I remembered the past and decided to do something with food coloring to find out which food color dyes aren’t healthy for kids and adults. If there are some unhealthy colors, what impact will they have on my body, especially my brain? And why can’t I eat them?

I studied which food dye — green, red, blue or yellow — affects the human brain the most. Since I couldn’t use a real brain, I used potatoes as the brain models. I believed that this was a good choice for a project, because 1) We are surrounded by foods that have all sorts of colors in them, and most people aren’t aware of how dangerous these colors really could be; and 2) Several scientists have used plant models such as seeds and seedlings in medical research.

I predicted that the green dye wouldn’t penetrate the brain models (potatoes) as much as the other colors. I assumed that the red and blue dyes would penetrate the brain models deeper out of all the food colors, and be way stronger and faster in penetrating the potatoes than the green and blue dyes. Also, I predicted that the blue dye would be just barely above the red and green dyes in its ability to penetrate the potatoes.

It turned out that the red (9 mm) tied with the green (9 mm) in terms of its ability to travel through and penetrate the potatoes. And the yellow (8.1 mm) dye was just below them in its ability to penetrate the potatoes. During the experiment, I collected data that led me to the conclusion that the blue (9.3 mm) dye is the one that penetrated the easiest and deepest, making it the most dangerous dye.

At first, I thought that potatoes would be very absorbent, but my assumptions were proved wrong by my background research. I found out that potatoes are grouped in the nightshade family of vegetables. They are also one of the starchiest vegetables, along with being non-absorbent. This explains why I got the results I did. I believe that the temperature could have affected the experiment, because the room temperature was cold.

These results can be used for many things. For example, chefs, especially pastry chefs, could use the results to decide what is the best choice for a frosting color. Basically, anybody, including children and teens, could use these results in their everyday life when choosing yogurt, cereal, cakes and candies with no or less dangerous food colors to reduce the damaging effects of food colors.

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