Can Vegans Use Red 40 Food Coloring?

Red 40 is an artificial coloring that, despite several misconceptions, is vegan since it’s not animal-derived. However, it’s often tested on animals, so it’s not cruelty-free.

So if you follow a vegan ethic of not hurting animals, not eating them or their by-products, and not purchasing any products like clothes or beauty products with animal traces in them, Red 40 isn’t compatible with a vegan mindset.

Keep on reading this response post to find all of the answers to your Red 40 potential questions. This way, you can decide if you want to use this red coloring or not as a vegan.

Table of Contents

Is Red 40 Vegan?

Yes, Red 40 is vegan, despite what many people think. The ingredients that are in this food coloring are not animal-derived, so the dye is vegetarian and vegan-friendly.

Many people think Red 40 is not vegan-friendly because they confuse it with Carmine, another red food coloring, which is not vegan or vegetarian.

Carmine is made from crushed bugs, and you can still find it in many products on the market. So try to avoid any products that have Carmine listed in this ingredient listed, if you’re vegan or vegetarian.

So Red 40 is vegan, unlike Carmine. However, Red 40 is often tested on animals.Is Red 40 Cruelty-free?

Red 40 is not cruelty-free.

Cruelty-free means that it’s not tested on animals, but Red 40 has been regularly animal-tested since 2018.

So although Red 40 is technically vegan, it’s tested on animals.So it’s not cruelty-free, and some don’t even consider it vegan-friendly.

Also, Red 40 food coloring has no nutritional purpose except for making food look good, so animals suffer for nothing. And animal suffering and cruelty don’t fit into a vegan ethic.

So we wouldn’t recommend you use it or buy items that contain this food dye if you’re vegan. The good news is that you can find alternatives to this red food coloring on the market, and some will even be better for your overall health and not harm animals in the process.


What Is Red 40 Made Out Of?

The official name of Red 40 is Allura Red AC, and it’s listed as E129 in food items. It’s an alternative to other red food dyes such as Cochineal. It’s cheaper to produce and hence streamlines production.

Also, Red 40 is animal-tested, so it isn’t cruelty-free. So you should try to avoid this ingredient altogether if you can, especially if you’re vegan.

This artificial dye is the most used food coloring in the U.S. and is FDA approved. But that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily good for your health, and there are better and healthier alternatives out there.

Even if you’re not on a plant-based diet, you don’t want to hurt your health or animals.

However, the good thing about Red 40, on top of being vegan, is that it replaces worse food colorings such as amaranth (red 2) or erythrosine (red 3). But it still won’t be good for your health, as you can see with the ingredients list below:


Red 40 is made out of petroleum by-products, or it can be made out of coal tar. Nowadays, most of them will be petrol-derived. It doesn’t exist naturally.

So it’s vegan, but it won’t be great for your health, as you can imagine. You don’t really want to ingest a by-product from the oil business. And that’s not all of the ingredients in Red 40.

This red food dye is also made out of a mix of chemicals, which can be bad for your health long-term and in heavy doses , for both humans and animals.

This can provoke some adverse reactions in your body, and not be beneficial for your health in general, even if it’s usually low-risk.


List of Foods With Red Dye 40

Uses Of Red Dye 40

A lot of foods have the Red 40 dye. For example, a lot of artificial-colored candy and energy drinks have this ingredient. You can even find Red 40 dye in certain makeup products and medication. It’s not just used for food coloring.

In the U.S., Red 40 is the most used food dye and is FDA approved. It replaces red 2 and red 3 since it’s a bit healthier (which is terrifying). In fact, you rarely find red-colored foods that don’t contain Red 40.

In the EU, the regulations are a bit stricter than in the U.S. when it comes to food colorings. In fact, red dye 40 is banned in most EU countries.

Food With Red Dye 40

Red dye 40 can be found in most food items and drinks that are red in color; especially in the U.S., since it’s one of the most used food dyes.

You can find this coloring in dairy products too. So don’t risk running into it if you’re vegan or lactose-intolerant.

You can also find Red 40 in beverages like sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks, and some protein powders.

Red 40 can also be in sweets or baked goods like candy, chewing gum, pastries, and cakes. You can also find this red food dye in snacks, jello, and some cereals.

As you can see, Red 40 can be everywhere, especially in the U.S. Although it’s vegan, it’s not cruelty-free or good for your health. So ideally, you should avoid it, especially if you’re vegetarian or vegan.

How To Spot Red 40

So how do you make sure your food doesn’t have Red 40 colorings?

You should read the label of each food product and see if Red 40 is mentioned on it. It goes by other names such as Allura red, Allura red AC, red dye 40, red #40, Red 40 lake, E129, C.I. Food Red 17, C. I. 16035, FD & C Red No. 40, and FD and C Red No. 40.

So it’s hard to keep track of. Also, Red 40 is not an allergen, unlike some animal-derived products, so it won’t stand out in an ingredients list, won’t be in bold, and will be concealed with other ingredients.


Does Red 40 Contain Pork?

No, Red 40 doesn’t contain any pork or any other animals or animal by-products.

Is Red 40 Halal?

Yes, Red 40 is halal since it doesn’t come from any animal by-products. So it’s safe to consume..

Is Red 40 food coloring bad?

It’s bad in terms of animal cruelty and also nutritionally. It has no nutrition and is just there for some extra color.

There are better alternatives out there, which will also be safer for your health and won’t hurt animals in the process.

Where is Red 40 banned?

In the EU, food dyes will come with this warning because they are so harmful: ‘May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children’. You won’t have this warning in the U.S.

Red 40 is considered dangerous for your health, so it’s banned in most European countries, including France, Norway, Island, Denmark, Belgium, and Switzerland. This ban has nothing to do with the animal testing, but it’s for health reasons.

Is Red 40 Dangerous?

As you might know by now, Red 40 can be dangerous for your health. In fact, it can be so harmful that it’s banned in most EU countries.

Health organizations claim that Red 40 is pretty much low-risk, but it can cause some problems.

Red 40 is often linked to cancer and could provoke allergies and lead to migraines. It’s also not advised for children, especially those with ADHD, who are very vulnerable to the side effects of this red food dye.

Here are the details on each claim:

Allergies And Migraines

According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Red 40 could lead to allergies and migraines. Both children and adults can have reactions to this food dye, and there can be a mild skin reaction that follows.

Children With ADHD

Red 40 food dye can also be harmful to children with ADHD, in particular. In general, you should avoid synthetic food dyes with children who have this condition, as it can worsen their behaviors.

This needs more research for the case of Red 40, but it’s good to avoid it in general.



Red 40 food coloring is vegan, but it’s not cruelty-free as it’s regularly tested on animals. So most vegans and vegetarians don’t want to support animal cruelty since it doesn’t fit into the plant-based ethic.

Another thing to consider is the health risks with this food coloring. It can be dangerous for your health, and it’s banned in most European countries. If you have troubles with migraines and allergies, avoid this food coloring. The same goes for children with ADHD.

So we wouldn’t advise you to eat foods that have Red 40 food coloring, especially if you’re vegan. Luckily, there are a lot of plant-based and cruelty-free alternatives out there, which will be better for your health!

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Jason Hughes
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