Blue 1 Side Effects

Blue 1 is an artificial coloring typically found in beverages, candy, baked goods and other consumables, including liquid antibiotics. It is sometimes also called Brilliant Blue. Blue 1 is a petroleum-derived triphenylmethane. In chemists terms, this means it has three aromatic rings attached to a central carbon atom. In the United States, color additives are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, but some side effects may result from ingesting items containing Blue 1.

Allergic reactions

Reactions to food dyes are often known as food intolerance instead of allergies because they are not IgE reactions 3. There is no specific allergy test for Blue 1 or other food dyes. Some reactions to Blue 1 include:

  • eczema
  • hives
  • puffy eyelids
  • dry skin
  • sneezing
  • recurring ear infections
  • congestion
  • wheezing

Severe reactions include anaphylaxis.


According to an article by Laurel Curran at Food Safety News, “Evidence suggests, though does not prove, that Blue 1 ... causes cancer in animals.”

Digestive upset

Those who have an intolerance to Blue 1 may experience symptoms such as constipation, vomiting, bloating, abdominal discomfort and diarrhea. Symptoms can show up within hours or days of ingesting Blue 1. While a small amount of Blue 1 may cause no problems, eating an entire bag of candy with Blue 1 may trigger a reaction.

Other side effects

Especially in those who have an intolerance, Blue 1 may affect behavior. Symptoms include headaches, migraines, anxiety, crying and fatigue. Blue 1 has also been linked to hyperactivity and behavior problems in children. According to the Feingold Association of the United States, Blue 1 can also cause chromosomal damage, which changes or breaks chromosomes of cells.