Ban Toxic Dye in Maraschino Cherries

Toxic Dye in Maraschino Cherries

Target: U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Goal: Reinstate the ban on Red Number 4, the toxic dye used to color maraschino cherries.

Do you enjoy milkshakes, sundaes, or alcoholic drinks? Are you the type of person who likes to eat the maraschino cherries that come with such beverages and desserts? If you are, did you know that you are ingesting a toxic dye?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recognized the toxicity of Red Number 4 in 1960, when they added it to a list of banned chemicals. But just five years later, the FDA removed Red Number 4 from the list so that it could be used to color maraschino cherries. Their justification was simple: maraschino cherries are not considered ‘foodstuff.’

Yet every day people eat the garnishes on their drinks without even realizing that the chemicals in the maraschino cherries are considered toxic and unsafe to eat. Sometimes these cherries are submerged in drinks, so even if you do not eat them, the dye contaminates the beverages and can affect your overall health. Unsuspecting consumers can also buy maraschino cherries by the gallon in grocery stores.

Demand that the FDA reverse their decision and reinstate the ban on the toxic dye Red Number 4. By doing so, you will send a clear and decisive message to the FDA that we, as food consumers, will not stand for toxic food additives to be included in our food.


Dear U.S. Food and Drug Administration,

Your 1965 decision to lift the ban on the toxic dye Red Number 4 was wrong. Maraschino cherries might be considered garnishes and not a ‘foodstuff’ but unwitting citizens have been consuming them for almost half a century, oblivious to the toxic nature of Red Number 4.

We are asking for the immediate removal of Red Number 4 from the list of acceptable food additives. Maraschino cherries containing the toxic Red Number 4 dye can be bought in bulk from many grocery stories and yet these products are not accurately labeled to warn consumers buying maraschino cherries that the red color comes from a toxic dye.

By allowing toxic food dye to be used in any part of a drink, dessert, or other dish, the FDA is sending the message to consumers of food that they do not put consumers’ health and safety first. If the FDA is willing to allow consumers to keep ingesting toxic dyes such as Red Number 4, the credibility of the rest of the FDA’s decisions cannot be trusted. We urge you to immediately reinstate the ban on the toxic dye Red Number 4 for the safety and health of food consumers everywhere.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Alexis Fam via Flickr

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