Reaction to Food Coloring - Not on the Label

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Reaction to Food Coloring - Not on the Label

Post  Seaine on Tue Aug 20, 2013 1:13 pm

I ate something with food coloring in it - but it's not listed on the label. It's Publix brand cheddar and bacon soup. I even got the can out of the recycling to double check. I am 100% sure that it has food coloring due to the way I feel; there's nothing else in the world that makes me feel like this. Everything else I ate that day, I've had a thousand times before. Oatmeal, peanut butter and jelly sandwich, etc. stuff I'm sure is safe with no food coloring.

Has anyone ever had this happen before? With MSG, or some other ingredient that you know gives you a migraine? I am fairly certain it's illegal for them to not have food coloring listed on the label in some way.
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Re: Reaction to Food Coloring - Not on the Label

Post  dcook60 on Tue Aug 20, 2013 1:37 pm

oh damn, i typed a long-ish reply and then hit something to make it disappear.  don't you just hate that??

was just gonna say that i looked at publix.com website and couldn't see how to search for specific food ingredients.  there are no publix stores in the pacific northwest.

i'm always looking for convenience foods i can eat with impunity.  amy's brand soup (expensive) is the only soup i know of without bad-for-me ingredients.  certain flavors only are ok.

i'd suggest going to the website and writing them about it.  i've done that numerous times with questionable ingredients and have 99% of the time received a timely answer.

if the ingredient is sourced from another company, or below a certain amount, the soup-making company does not have to put it on the label.  damn again, to be so highly sensitive, like you and i.  dianne
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Re: Reaction to Food Coloring - Not on the Label

Post  Seaine on Tue Aug 20, 2013 2:00 pm

Thanks for your reply.

Their website does not have anywhere that lists their deli food ingredients.  However, the can of soup had its own label on it where it had the nutrition facts and ingredients.

Here is what I wrote to them:
Seaine wrote:Hello, I recently moved to the area and have been shopping at Publix stores for the first time.  On Saturday afternoon, I went to the Publix store at Lake Washington Crossing and bought a sandwich and a soup from the deli.

The soup I got was called Cheddar and Bacon, and it was Publix brand.  I put it in the fridge and ate it the next day.  It was the first time I've had any Publix soups.

My concern is, the product has an ingredient(s) not listed on the label.  You see, I am allergic to artificial food coloring - an example is yellow #5, or red #40.  I ate the soup, and a few hours later I had a reaction.

I examined everything I ate that day.  It was all food I'd had a thousand times before, and items that I knew for certain had no food coloring in them.  The Publix soup was the only thing new, that I'd eaten for the first time.  I had already looked at the ingredients carefully, before consuming the soup, as I do with all food items.

After I had a reaction, I got the soup container out of the recycling to double check the ingredients.  It did not list any artificial food coloring listed.

My issue is this:
1.  I am completely sure that I had a reaction to food coloring.  There is nothing else in the world that makes me sick like that, and I am not allergic to any other foods.  Although there is no test for food coloring allergies, I have confirmed my allergy countless times by accidentally eating food coloring and having a reaction.
2.  Every other food item I had eaten, I could rule out.  Nothing else had any artificial coloring.  That only leaves the Publix brand soup.  It was difficult for me to believe since it wasn't on the label, but it's the only food I had never eaten before.

It is already hard enough for me to avoid artificial food coloring, due to how many food items it is in, but this is the only time I've had a reaction and the food did not list it!

Please, make sure the soup either doesn't have artificial coloring, or if it does list it on the label.  It is illegal not to, and it causes uneeded suffering for people like me who are allergic to certain ingredients.  I feel like I can't eat any of the Publix brand soups now, because I can't know if they're safe for me or not.

Thank you for reading,
- Rayna
It is true that if the ingredient is below a certain amount, it doesn't have to be listed - but that only applies to certain ingredients.  For example, an ingredient that was used to wash fruit or salad can be washed off to be below a certain amount, and then it no longer has any action on the food. (This is why some of us get migraines from packaged salads! Chemicals that were almost washed completely off) Food coloring is not one of these ingredients, since even a small amount has a purpose and action on the food - to change its color.
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Re: Reaction to Food Coloring - Not on the Label

Post  dcook60 on Tue Aug 20, 2013 7:49 pm

yours is a terrific letter. please let us know what the company answers. thanks, dianne
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Re: Reaction to Food Coloring - Not on the Label

Post  ZomigMan on Wed Aug 21, 2013 3:10 pm

For me both the bacon and cheddar would do me in. Cheddar is an aged cheese, and naturally high in tyramine and may have tannins in it from the dyes used to make it orange. Bacon is another double whammy, typically smoked and high in tannins (unless it is cured bacon) as well as tyramine. The older the bacon and cheese, the more likely that I will get a migraine from eating them. So it could simply be the age of the soup. The longer the soup is in the can, the longer the tyrosine has time to convert to tyramine, a known migraine trigger.

Any bright orange colored cheddar cheese has a color added to make it that way. I learned that as a kid touring a cheese factory on the Oregon Coast (there used to be many of them, but now its mostly Tillimook). Natural cheddar is a variable cream to yellow to light orange color.  The color varies depending on what the cows are eating during different times of the year, and how much beta carotene is in their diet. Beta carotene is what makes carrots orange. Anyway, over time cheese makers added orange dyes to make cheddar cheese consistent throughout the year. There are several dyes used, but the most common for cheddar is annatto, made from the seed of the tropical Annato or Lipstick Tree. It is a 'natural coloring' and not artificial, so it will be listed as natural, or not at all. Although it is natural, annatto is another known migraine trigger. The reason is likely that annatto is very high in tannins. Annato dyes are commonly used in a lot of dairy products to make them yellow or orange, like ice cream, margarine, butter, cheese, yogurt, etc. to give them a consistent attractive coloring.

So in this case I do not think that the soup company is at fault for their lack of any ingredients listed. The cheddar cheese can be 100% natural and the bacon smoke cured and also 100% natural, and still give me a whopping headache. For that reason as a food triggered migrainer, I would avoid bacon and cheddar cheese like the plague. And that is at the heart of a lot of posts I have made here on this forum: tyramine and tannins are natural occurring elements in foods. They are typically not listed on food labels and the amounts vary depending on age, ripeness, and curing processes.
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Re: Reaction to Food Coloring - Not on the Label

Post  Seaine on Thu Aug 22, 2013 3:45 pm

ZomigMan, I appreciate your reply. However, the company IS at fault. There IS artificial food dye in their soup, such as red #40 or yellow #5. When I said I was sure, I was absolutely positive, would-bet-money-on-it sure.

The reason I am so sure, is that the artificial dyes do something totally different to me than "just" a migraine. After I eat them, it feels like somebody ripped my intestines out, cut them into a few pieces, then stuffed them back in without fixing them up again. A burning, horrible, painful cramping that sticks around for a full 48 hours. I will literally be incapacitated, as in laying on the floor. The only thing that partially relieves the pain is to lay very still and not move a muscle. Have you ever had a muscle that cramps up when you move it a certain way, so you have to be careful and not move it for a little while? It's like that, only my entire torso and for two days straight. Not to mention, I'm sitting in the bathroom for much of this time if you know what I mean.

And that's not even talking about the pain in my head, which my migraine medication has no impact on... almost implying that it's not really a migraine.

It is quite possible that tannins and tyramines are giving me my regular migraines. I do plan to test that. However, this is different. This is a bona-fied food intolerance, an allergy if you will with symptoms that aren't the classic allergic reaction. To be honest with you, the symptoms have gotten worse since I stopped eating the dyes everyday. Almost like my body had developed a tolerance to them, which will happen with allergies you're commonly exposed to, and the tolerance has now disappeared since I don't eat them anymore. Well, almost never.

Anyways, the soup actually had white cheddar cheese in it. That's right, the cheese was not dyed with annatto or with anything else. In fact, that's one of the things that, looking back, is the most suspicious. Because the soup was orange in color... but there was no annatto or beta carotene listed on the ingredients.

Also... I don't know if you know this, but I get daily migraines. So, having "just" a migraine that day would not have made me go "How dare that soup!!"

Anyways, here is their reply,
Publix wrote:Thank you for writing to us of your experience with our Bacon Cheddar Soup. We apologize for any inconvenience or concern caused to you. We appreciate you reporting the incident and understand a refund is not why it was reported. However, your local store will be glad to replace or refund your purchase in accordance with our Publix Promise, "We will never knowingly disappoint you. If for any reason your purchase does not give you complete satisfaction, the full purchase price will be cheerfully refunded immediately upon your request." We have notified the supplier as well, and I will be in touch with you shortly. Thank you for shopping with Publix... where serving you is our pleasure.

Thanks,
I don't care about a refund for a couple bucks of course, but I am happy they are contacting the supplier. The supplier either needs to label the soup correctly or take out the artificial dyes.
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Re: Reaction to Food Coloring - Not on the Label

Post  dcook60 on Thu Aug 22, 2013 7:34 pm

the company's reply was pretty good, but it was definitely not, for you, an "inconvenience or concern". you surely made it clear enough.

but next time, or if you respond to this letter, tell 'em the whole story about writhing around on the floor for 2 days. make 'em sweat. dianne
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Re: Reaction to Food Coloring - Not on the Label

Post  ZomigMan on Fri Aug 23, 2013 2:56 am

Well, I will again point out that this forum tends to be dominated by chronic migrainers, or people with constant/daily migraines. People like me with plain old intermittent mind splitting migraines tend to get flushed out of this site. I also have a hard time dealing with people here with their extremes of medication or the extreme levels of their migraines and other related medical issues. I am also not here for a medical one-upsmanship competition (which I have gotten into before on this site), or sympathy, as they do no one any good. Nor do I want to debate issues at this level.

If you think its something other than the obvious in the soup, great. I do not agree, but obviously I am wrong, and therefore there is no point in my posting on this thread any more. I will take it one further and again wander elsewhere on the web regarding migraines. I drifted back onto this forum after a long absence when I figured out my issue with tannins, but.... it would seem that the level of intensity here is something other than what I can tolerate, or desire to deal with, all over again. Maybe its because most of the people here are women? Just an observation, yes... I know that women get migraines 3:1 to men. Just the same, its weird being a male here.

Good luck all... I post over on the MAV site now and then...


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Re: Reaction to Food Coloring - Not on the Label

Post  Seaine on Sun Aug 25, 2013 3:35 pm

Linda wrote:per our regulatory label coordinator:

FDA regulations require us to list any certified colors (FD&Cs) on the label however; I checked all of the specs of the ingredients on the BOM just to be sure and there are no undeclared colors.  Furthermore, I know we source ingredients without these colors as we try to keep our labels as pure as we can.

In short there is no food coloring in our product. I am very sorry we were not able to help you solve the issue.
Thank you again for contacting us
Well, this is unfortunate as now I either have to disbelieve her, or some other food that I ate had coloring. I've thought long and hard about it, and I am still sure that I ate food coloring no matter how often I go over it and question myself. I am glad they replied promptly. Maybe this will just be one of those mysterys.. I could always retest it and eat the soup again, but I don't think I can bring myself to do that.
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Re: Reaction to Food Coloring - Not on the Label

Post  Mini on Mon Aug 26, 2013 4:16 pm

It is possible that there are traces of all sorts of unlisted chemicals and food additives in any processed foods, which combined trigger on your M.
But you mention something else: cheddar and bacon soup   this strikes me as an obvious explanation: since both bacon and cheddar are very bad M triggers anyway, bacon because of nitrates and cheddar because of aging fermentation process necessary to produce it, and together they might be  responsible for your M much more then  the suspected food colouring.

Perhaps you might want to try to make your own soups and freeze them for reheating when you are busy. Many tasty soups are extremely quick and easy to make, and I could not survive without them when I have sometimes long spells of feeling unwell and I am unable to cook, or to go out shopping.

There are so many easy recipes on the internet, with easy to follow instruction and simple ingredients. You can also alter them, in due course, in accordance with your own tastes by adding, cream, garlic or herbs etc. to make them more interesting.
At times I add pieces of chicken breasts as well, so I have a full meal instantly as they take no time to cook.

Finding our worst triggers is the  most effective of cutting  down on those unnecessary bouts of M. Of course this is not always easy, but we keep trying.
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Re: Reaction to Food Coloring - Not on the Label

Post  dcook60 on Mon Aug 26, 2013 4:39 pm

seaine, i'm sorry you couldn't figure this out with the help of the company.  too many times to count, i've been thru the same thing.  you eat something that is fine on the label, and then you get sick.  whaaaaaat; why?

after such an episode, i never have the courage to try the food again.  there are fewer and fewer food items that i absolutely know for sure are safe.  i surely have wasted a lot of $ on food i couldn't eat over the years (and couldn't find anyone to give it to, either).  dianne
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