Red # 3: Pet Food Ingredients A to Z

We continue our A to Z series with the letter “R”. Today's ingredient is Red #3.

What is Red # 3?

Red #3 L

Red #3, and other red colorings like red #40, as well as all other artificial food colorings, are artificially made food coloring chemicals.

Common names for Red #3

The most common name variation is Red 3 or Red number 3 and Erythrosine.

Why is Red #3 included in pet food?

There is no nutritional reason to include Red #3 in pet food, or human food for that matter.  Red #3 is most often used in lower quality pet food to make it more visually appealing to the human.  As silly as that sounds, it is true.

Common benefits or risks of Red # 3

There are no benefits of Red #3.  It is used to make low quality food look more appealing to the human!  Dogs and cats do not care what color their food is.

Risks: In 1990, the FDA issues a partial ban on Red # 3, citing research that high doses have been found to cause cancer in rats.

Miscellaneous facts about Red # 3

  • Red # 3 is used to achieve a “Cherry Red” type of color.  That would be interesting if we were talking about a water color painting and not food.

Sources and further reading


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