The government banned some uses of the color additive Red No. 3 Monday, and as a result, ``red' may not be as ``red' in lipstick, cake frostings, cough drops and in some processed fruits and juices.
The Food and Drug Administration announcement said some uses of the dye are being halted because Red No. 3 in high doses has been shown to cause cancer in rats.The cancer risk is considered so small that the FDA said that existing products that contain the color may be used. The ban on Red No. 3 will apply only to new manufacturing, the FDA said.
FDA spokesman Emil Corwin said Red No. 3 can no longer be used in any cosmetic product, including lipsticks, powders, blushes, shampoos or skin care lotions.
It also is excluded from use in cake frostings, cough drops, herbs and spices, flavorings, some processed fruits and juices, chewing gum, cake mixes and dietary foods. Even the wax on cheeses can no longer contain the red dye.
Red No. 3 is one of seven primary colors approved for food, drug and cosmetic use, but it holds a very important position because it is the ``closest to primary red,' said John Hallagan of the Certified Color Manufacturers Association.
``There will be a number of products that won't be red any more,' said Hallagan.
``Because it was closest to the primary color of red, No. 3 is ideal for blending,' said Hallagan. Mixing No. 3 with other colors could make shades ranging from orange to maroon.
Irene Malbin of the Cosmetic Toiletry and Fragrance Association said red No. 3 ``was not used in very many cosmetic products' because of uncertainty over its status.
However, association president Ed Kavanaugh attacked the FDA action as being ``arbitrary and capricious' because the agency permitted Red No. 3 to continue to be used in food ``and other ingested products.'
``It is grossly and fundamentally unfair that the agency is immediately food uses to continue for the years it will take the administrative process to be completed,' said Kavanaugh.
Under the FDA order, Red No. 3 still can be applied directly to some products.
That means it still can be applied directly to meat, pet food, nut products, fruit and fruit juices, candy and confections, breakfast cereals and ingested drugs.
Corwin said the cherries in fruit cocktail, for example, can continue to be tinted red.