Yellow Fever

Yellow No. 5 has also seen it’s share of controversy, not so much because it’s ever done anything much to anyone (most countries outside of Norway consider it safe, and “sensitivity” complaints against it are about on par with other coal tar dyes) but because it became the most widely used food coloring after Red No. 2 was de-listed due to public pressure. Once that happened, Yellow No. 5 was simply the next color on the target list. However no serious complaints — only urban legends — have ever sprung up around it.

The most famous of these surfaced in the early 1990’s when rumors began to circulate that consumption of Yellow No. 5 resulted in reduced sperm counts. The myth wasn’t based on any known science, but it was enough, so it’s been said, to cause a run on Mountain Dew among young urban men looking for a cheap form of birth control. Which is undoubtedly an urban myth in and of itself.

9 thoughts on “Yellow Fever”

  1. Yeah, we norwegians are rainbow-haters or something. I don’t know why, but we’re all paranoid about everything. You should see our taxes on cheese.imports. Gahd, this country…

  2. Tora mentioned cheese (one of my favorite foods) which made me wonder if they use this one for coloring cheese or another dye or a natural color of some type to color cheese orange. I have argued for years that I could taste orange cheese over white cheese in a blindfolded test. Can’t abide orange cheese any more than I can orange (colored) cake. HA.

    1. ‘Tis. It’s dye extracted from the seeds of the achiote tree. According to Wikipedia:

      Its scent is described as “slightly peppery with a hint of nutmeg” and flavor as “slightly nutty, sweet and peppery”.

      Which might explain Linda’s issues with orange cheese.

    2. Hey Stephanie!

      Yes, annato is also called “achiote”, it’s the bright red berry that Mesoamericans once used to tint liquid chocolate red. I think it wold be considered a natural color.

      – Joe

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