Friday, November 2, 2012

Is Red Dog Treat Icing Safe?

Q: Is red dog treat icing safe for dogs?

A: As we come up to the holiday season, where the color red is featured quite a bit when it comes to icings and frostings, this question surfaces. The reader wonders if there is a problem with this particular color being difficult for dogs to digest.

Let's clear up the issues about RED coloring. 

Backhund dog bakery in Austria made these decorated dog treats using Fido's Frosting brand Royal Icing. These "gingerbread men" are really liver and carrot!

decorated dog treats
Liver carrot dog cake from Backhund dog bakery decorated with Fido's Royal Icing
Food coloring is regulated - in the USA, by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), and in Europe by the European Union. In the USA, a coloring is given a FD&C number which indicates it is approved by the FDA for food, drugs and cosmetics. The synthetic red colors FD&C # 3 and FD&C # 40 are allowed to be used in foods. There are other colors made from natural sources, but the artificial color commonly called "red dye # 2" was the one that has received most attention was banned in 1976.

Red dye # 2 was linked to cancer after laboratory rats (that were fed very large amounts of it) developed cancers. A panic regarding red food coloring was started due to this. Even red M&M's were discontinued at the time, even though it is reported that the candy never contained this coloring. 

Later, red dye # 40, which was substituted, was blamed for ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) but there has been no conclusive evidence that there is a link.

The red coloring is used as a decoration, not as a full entree, so your dog is not going to be consuming large amounts. It just may be that the color red, which in nature does signal danger (e.g. poisonous snakes, insects and plants often have red coloring) has a psychological effect on some people in the same way.  

If it truly was dangerous, it would be pulled off the shelves, due to so much public scrutiny. In conclusion, there is no need to worry, and you should enjoy making beautiful holiday dog treats using red dog treat icing and royal icing 
for dogs if you wish!

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