Artificial Colours in Food

Many foods both for humans and for animals are artificially coloured.  People and animals use many ways of selecting their food.  For us as well as for certain animals, colour is important.  Other animals take more notice of the smell of food.


Colouring dog food is mainly done for the people buying it, not for the dog.  If we give artificially coloured food to our dogs we are giving them a substance they do not need, and which could possibly be harmful to some dogs.

Many people believe that their dogs react to some artificial colours but not all beliefs have been proven scientifically.  This does not prove that the belief is unfounded.

Over the  years we have been selling dog food there has been a major change in attitude.  Now the great majority of dog food we sell has no artificial colours or flavours.  Some of it also has no artificial preservatives.  20 years ago, the most popular dog foods were artificially coloured.


Humans like to eat nicely coloured food.  We are actually quite good at choosing good food from its colour.  Unfortunately, many food producers put artificially colours in our food to fool us that the food is better than it really is.  I regard this as being dishonest by intention, but it is not illegal as long as the label complies with the law.  Regrettably, it is so common that the producers often do not see anything wrong with what they are doing.

Many people are convinced that red food colouring is one of the things that can make susceptible people hyperactive. 

When a new drug is developed an enormous amount of testing is done to make sure it is safe, but when a new food additive is developed the amount of testing is much less.


Cats, like dogs, are more likely to choose their food by its smell than by its colour.  Again, the colours are put into the food mainly for the people who are buying the food.  As with dog food, the trend is away from artificially coloured cat food, but because the cheaper foods tend to be coloured we still sell both coloured and uncoloured cat food.


Most mammals choose their food more by its smell than by its colour.  Some mammals are colour blind, or have much less sophisticated colour vision than us, but have a better sense of smell.  Human beings and apes use colour more than most mammals.

Birds generally have excellent eyesight including good colour vision.  Most birds use their vision to choose the food at first.  They learn what is good to eat by trying some of each type of food.  The colour of the food is important to birds.


Some fish use colour to select their food while to others colour is totally irrelevant.

Many types of fish food are artificially coloured.  Although some fish can see colour and use it in selecting their food, the main reason fish food manufacturers colour their food it to attract people to buy it.

Based on the number of negative comments we get about the colouring in the fish food, the manufacturers are not doing a very good job of making their food attractive to buyers.  Some fish foods have such a lot of food colouring that several of my customers have reported staining of the water from the dyes in the fish food.

Colour Enhancing Fish Food

Colour enhancing food is simply food with a reasonably large amount of naturally occurring carotenes.  These are what give many fish their colour in the wild.  However, these foods are also often artificially coloured.  This causes confusion to potential buyers.