One of the most beloved drinks of American children is Kool-Aid. It is deliciously sweet, the Kool-Aid man is awesome and the vibrant red color is enticing, especially to the young, eager eyes that are the primary consumers.

As a teen, my friend’s and I sometimes referred to Kool-Aid as Sugar, Water, Red. When you look at the ingredients, there really isn’t much more to it than that. We all know what sugar and water is, but where does the red come from?

The coloring comes from Red-40, which is one of the most popular color additives used in the food industry. Red-40, which is known by multiple names, has a molecule in it named P-cresidine, and P-cresidine is a class 2B carcinogen(1).

To be clear, this is the lowest level classification of a linked carcinogen; for reference, some other class 2B carcinogens include:

Acetaldehyde – occurs naturally in coffee, bread and ripe fruit.(3)

Bracken Fern – a fern found globally (4)

Radiofrequency electromagnetic fields – such as, but not limited to, those associated with wireless phones (5)

This is not to suggest that you must toss all cell phones, burn the ferns and stop eating a large majority of food, but to show that this classification is relatively benign.

Group 2B can be classified as an agent that has somehow shown limitedevidence of causing cancer in animals or humans.

Limited evidence of carcinogenicity: The data suggest a carcinogenic effect but are limited for making a definitive evaluation because, e.g. (a) the evidence of carcinogenicity is restricted to a single experiment; (b) there are unresolved questions regarding the adequacy of the design, conduct or interpretation of the studies; (c) the agent increases the incidence only of benign neoplasms or lesions of uncertain neoplastic potential; or (d) the evidence of carcinogenicity is restricted to studies that demonstrate only promoting activity in a narrow range of tissues or organs. (6)

Basically, they have seen some evidence that is legitimate and credible, but it can’t be assuredly associated with human cancer for a lot of reasons and therefore, isn’t necessarily harmful for humans.

We see this classification in multiple artificial coloring chemicals, some of which aren’t used in food products: CI Acid Red 114(7), CI Basic Red 9(8), CI Direct Blue 15(9), Citrus Red No. 2(10), Disperse Blue 1(11), Trypan Blue(12).

There are also food dyes like Yellow No. 5, which might cause hives in fewer than one out of 10,000 people according to FDA’s Committee on Hypersensitivity to Food Constituents. There has been a belief that food coloring also causes ADHD in children, but the consensus is that there is no conclusive data supporting this.(13)


Color dyes are prevalent in society, so it would be pretty difficult – and unnecessary – to completely cut them out of your diet for your health.

So while they are not necessarily harmful to consume, we at the Genius Brand understand that a lot of people, like us, would rather remove anything in question from their diet to be the healthiest possible person they can be.

When I was a kid, I would have been upset if Kool-Aid didn’t have that beautiful bright red color. But now, as an adult, I am less drawn by vibrant colors and more concerned about the health implications of the things I put into my body.

Fortunately, there is an option of high quality supplements for you that doesn’t have any artificial dyes. Why compromise? Our product is solely intended to elevate your mind and body, so we don’t feel it necessary to add anything that doesn’t serve that purpose.

The Genius Brand has completely eliminated anything that you may want to avoid from its ingredients and left you with something you can trust. Don’t believe us? Check out the non-proprietary blend, open labels on our products. We are a brand that believes in transparency, and because our products are the highest quality we can produce we want the world to see our ingredients. Ingredients backed by science without any extra junk. It’s the smart choice, supplement smarter with the Genius Brand.

Author: Anye Turner

Anye Turner is a Research Associate and Brand Manager for The Genius Brand. He has a B.Sc. in Biology with a minor in English from Western Washington University. He was a student-athlete at Western and played professional basketball in Germany. Currently a frequent user of Genius supplements and a bookworm. You can contact Anye at

(1)  “p‐Cresidine.” National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 3 Nov. 2016,

(2)  “IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans.” IARC Monographs- Classifications,

(3)  Uebelacker, Michael, and Dirk W. Lachenmeier. “Quantitative Determination of Acetaldehyde in Foods Using Automated Digestion with Simulated Gastric Fluid Followed by Headspace Gas Chromatography.” Journal of Automated Methods and Management in Chemistry, vol. 2011, 2011, pp. 1–13., doi:10.1155/2011/907317.

(4)  Evans, I A, et al. “The Possible Human Hazard of the Naturally Occurring Bracken Carcinogen.” The Biochemical Journal., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Sept. 1971,


(6)  IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans. WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION INTERNATIONAL AGENCY FOR RESEARCH ON CANCER, Jan. 2006,

(7)  National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Database; CID=5360191, (accessed Jan. 2, 2018).

(8)  National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Database; CID=11292, (accessed Jan. 2, 2018).

(9)  National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Database; CID=6321380, (accessed Jan. 2, 2018).

(10) National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Database; CID=9570225, (accessed Jan. 2, 2018).

(11)  National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Database; CID=17190, (accessed Jan. 2, 2018).

(12) National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Database; CID=9562061, (accessed Jan. 2, 2018).

(13) Aungst, Jason. Evaluation of Studies on Artificial Food Colors and Behavior Disorders in Children. Office of Food Additive Safety. Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition,

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