Every vegan has been there. You grab a product and turn it over to read the ingredients list and notice something weird. You could be thrown off by many things listed here, but one of the main ones is the many different artificial colors you may find.
Artificial colors can range from Red 40 to Yellow 5. These colors are used in drinks, candy (like Sour Patch Kids), and other foods. They can be found in things beyond just food products. You may see Yellow 5 in cosmetics, medications, and more. This specific dye is used to create a bright lemon-yellow color.
When I first went vegan many years ago I was definitely thrown off by the wide range of colors I started to notice on ingredients lists. It is hard to tell if something is vegan by just reading the name of a color paired with a number. One of the most common artificial colors you may run into is Yellow 5.
Let’s take a closer look at this pesky color and answer the question that is on your mind, is Yellow 5 vegan?
Is Yellow 5 vegan?
Yellow 5 is one of those tricky ingredients that can be considered vegan by some and not vegan by others. Yellow 5 does not contain anything that comes from animals, however, food color additives are often tested on animals before they make it into our food. That means yellow 5 is considered vegan when it comes to diet, but not so much when it comes to making ethical choices.
Consuming Yellow 5 is not the most ethical thing a vegan can do.
One of the main parts of being vegan is compassion for animals. Some people go vegan strictly for health reasons or have other motivations outside of their love for animals. With that being said, many people go vegan because they care about animals.
Most vegans make their decisions based on how they affect animals. These choices don’t just determine what food they eat, but what clothes and beauty products they purchase too. We opt out of activities like fishing or hunting. Animal testing tends to be something we avoid supporting too. In many cases, artificial food coloring is something we ethical vegans should try to avoid as much as possible.
What is yellow 5?
Yellow 5 is a synthetic food coloring agent used to turn products into a shade of lemon-yellow. The fact that this coloring is synthetic means that it is created in a lab. When yellow 5 is made, no animal products or by-products are used in the process. Instead, petroleum and chemicals are used to artificially create this specific color.
Yellow 5 is not always referred to under that name. It might be listed as Acid Yellow 23, E102, CI 19140, Tartrazine, FD&C Yellow 5, and Food Yellow 4. No matter which one of these names you see, know that the ingredients list is talking about the same food additive.
Actually, there is a pretty good TED talk about Artificial Food Dyes by Dr. Rebecca Bevans that you should check out.
Is Yellow 5 harmful or safe?
Yellow 5 is approved by the FDA, but that doesn’t mean it is healthy. There have been studies that have linked certain risks to the consumption of Yellow 5. Some have found an effect on attention issues and hyperactivity in children, others have found it to cause things like asthma, allergic reactions, and hives. A 2015 study found that this coloring caused damage to white blood cells. Yellow 5 is even banned in Austria and Norway.
Whether or not you choose to consume Yellow 5 is up to you, but now you have the facts. It is not the healthiest ingredient, and it is banned in some areas. It may not contain animal products or byproducts, but it is hard to ignore the animal testing involved in the creation of this ingredient.
The bottom line is that Yellow 5 is not ethically vegan, but if you are vegan for other reasons, you can consume as much of it as you want.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yellow 5 is considered vegan in a dietary way because it does not contain any animal products or byproducts. If you are an ethical vegan, you may avoid this food coloring because it is tested on animals.
FD&C Yellow 5 is another term for Yellow 5. It is vegan in a dietary sense, but the color is tested on animals, so it is not suitable for ethical vegans.
Both Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 are considered safe for vegans when it comes to dietary restrictions, but they are tested on animals, so ethical vegans tend to avoid them.
Yellow 5 does not contain animal products or byproducts, but food colorings are tested on animals, so they are unsuitable for ethical vegans.