While making the pet food, it loses its original color. Still, when you serve food to pets it looks colorful. From where does that color come? While manufacturing pet foods, synthetic colors are added to make them look appealing. Animals do not see colors as humans do. Now the question arises are food colors safe for animals? 

These food colors might have toxic content like lead, mercury, and arsenic. These contents can be dangerous to animals. Finally, the Food and Drugs Act of 1906 banned these colors. Also, the coal-tar dyes were banned by the Color Additive Amendments of 1960. These colors were the byproduct of coal processing. Thus this made a shift towards food color safety. Though it is not true that colors that are safe for humans are also safe for animals.

Is it Safe for Animals to Consume Food Colors?

Certain color additives can cause cancer, hyperactivity, and allergies in humans in some cases. Hence many pet parents avoid synthetic dyes for their pets and themselves as well. Many FMCG companies have found solutions and alternatives for synthetic dyes.

Learn more about natural food colors here!

Certain synthetic colors are already banned in European countries but they are available in other parts of the world. Red 40, also called Allura red is unhealthy for animals. It causes hyperactivity and ADHD(Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). Red 3 or Erythrosine food color has harmful effects on animals. The FDA tried to ban it but they did not have any supporting research documents.

Yellow 5, E 102, or tartrazine is banned in Norway. European countries have warned against synthetic color. It causes thyroid tumors, asthma, ADHD, allergies, neurochemical and behavioral effects, insomnia, violent behavior, and aggression. 

Sunset Yellow or Yellow 6 is one more synthetic color that causes many damages like skin issues, chromosomal damage, asthma, hives, hyperactivity, and aggression. Hence it is banned in Norway and Sweden. Blue 2 or Indigo carmine causes brain tumors, abnormal cell development, allergic reactions, and cancer. It is banned in Norway. Blue 1 also called brilliant blue color is banned in France and Finland as it causes chromosomal damage. US food processing has banned Citrus red 2 as it causes bladder tumors. Green 3 is also banned by European economic communities for the same reason. 

Synthetic food colors may not be harmful in most cases but they also don’t add any nutritious value to the food. Organic colors or natural colors have been the replacement for synthetic food colors. 


The use of synthetic colors in pet foods is to make food visually attractive for pet owners. Animals don’t see colors but humans do. The whole pet food coloring market has been created to attract customers. Due to some harmful effects of synthetic dyes, pet owners have become more aware while buying food for their pets. Some pet food manufacturers have shifted to organic food colors to address this issue. Natural dyes don’t have concentrated colors and are not harmful. Hence they are considered to be the replacement for synthetic food dyes.