Tuesday, 8 August 2017

We're all living in a yellow tartrazine, yellow tartrazine, yellow tartrazine

I know of someone that during his holidays tried to boost his vitamin intake for he was daily swimming on a 72 m2 pool. So in order to pump up his immune system and energise his body, he drove his rented Renault Captur to the nearest pharmacy and purchased some tablets. Said tablets of yellowish colour provided him the necessary daily intake of vitamins, enzymatic co-factors and folic acid.

A pill a day should have kept the doctor away, in principle, to say the least. However, what really happened was that after a couple of days he started feeling weird. His arms weren't strong as before, his hands trembled and he started to naturally freak out. 

He wasn't anxious, the football season hadn't started yet, his team was guaranteed a nice squad with a solid manager; his bank account wasn't negative! So anxiety or stress were immediately discarded.

Nothing was different in his life apart from the only variable that had been introduced to his daily routine, the vitamin complex. So he opened the product information leaflet and read through the composition. Vitamin B12, that is nice... Folic acid... that's also nice... Tartrazine, that isn't nice at all!! Could it be tartrazine the generator of these adverse events?, he asked himself. So in a simple yet intelligent approach he quit the tablets altogether and with no surprises the worst adverse reactions vanished in a couple of days. Probably the time necessary to washout tartrazine from his system, who knows?!

So after he reported the side effects he had experienced to the manufacturers of that product, and the company reported back with their personal views on the matter, he decided to share his experience with the outside world since most of the folks out there are completely oblivious to the fact that:

1) Tartrazine (E102) is a very common synthetic yellow pigment used in the food, fabrics and drugs industry;

2) Contrarily to what the manufacturer reported back, there are numerous cases of intolerance to Tartrazine and 'nefarious' reports on adverse reactions after Tartrazine intake.

Adverse reactions to tartrazine may involve a very large spectrum of signs,  such as migraine, hyperactivity, urticaria, angioedema (swelling beneath of the skin or mucosa), eczema (dermatitis), respiratory issues, gastrointestinal problems like irritable bowel, and like other food additives such as monosodium glutamates, may affect the central nervous system [1]. There are many anecdotal reports linking this additive to the triggering of epilepsy in children!!!!!! Like Loblay and Swain had already mentioned back in 1985 on a fantastic piece of article "adverse reactions to tartrazine is much broader than has been hitherto recognised".

The manufacturer responded by playing low profile with a genuine letter of concern. However, the available scientific data out there show that among the clinical spectrum of adverse reactions to tartrazine one can find hyperkinesis (muscle spasms; that in children are part of the hyperactivity and lack of concentration portfolio) [2]. 

There is a good scientific review report on Tartrazine performed by the Department of Health (Australian Government) readily available on the web [3]. In that same report one can read that absorption of this orally ingested substance in humans is less than 5%, and that the absorbed tartrazine is secreted in urine, vastly unaltered. In addition, this report states that the substance is largely metabolised in the intestine by the microflora and that some metabolites are also absorbed. They also report that this substance shows no evidence of:

- mutagenic potential, neither 

- carcinogenic effects, nor

- teratogenic effects.

Facing such conflicting views and supported by the increasing number of complaints on the ever so clear link between this synthetic dye/pigment and the people who consume it (especially children, because this dye is fairly used for colouring juices), I prefer to leave you with a link to the antidote and emergency treatment. This approach is suggested by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information and is available for free on their website [4]: 

Basic Treatment - For ingestion, rinse mouth and administer 5 mL/Kg up to 200 mL of water for dilution if the patient can swallow, has a strong gag reflex and does not drool.

Please bear in mind that some intoxication events need medical assistance and clinical supervision. Please, do not ignore it.

[1] Loblay, R. H, and Swain, A. R. (1985). "Adverse reactions to tartrazine". Food technology in Australia, 37(11), pp. 508-514. 

[2] Collins-Williams, C. (1985). "Clinical spectrum of adverse reactions to tartrazine". The Journal of Asthma, 22(3), pp. 139-143.

[3] Toxicity of Tartrazine, Australian Government, Department of Health, [https://www.tga.gov.au/sites/default/files/tartrazine-toxicity-1402.pdf], last visited on the 08-Aug-2017, last update on February 2014.

[4] Tartrazine, PubChem - Open Chemistry Database, [https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Tartrazine#section=Top], last visited on the 8th of August 2017, last update unknown.

1st Post image kindly taken from Cartrite, [http://www.cartrite.co.uk/?product=tartrazine-granular-e102-food-yellow-4-ci-19140-colour-color-colouring-1934-21-0]

2nd Post image kindly taken from Matrix Pharma Chem, [http://food-colours.com/tartrazine-food-colour/].

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