It’s summer time and that means it’s BBQ season! One of the most popular burger toppings is pickles! Truth be told, I am a huge pickle fan. I love the crunch and the tangy flavour. The problem is – not all pickles are created equal!!!

Let’s take Vlasic pickles for example, one of the more popular pickle brands in North America. If you take a look at the ingredient list you will notice these pickles do not look good naked! They contain a harmful ingredient called tartrazine.

vlasic pickles

Tartrazine, is an artificial food colour. You may also hear it referred to as Yellow #5 or E-102.

The reason I strongly suggest you avoid tartrazine is because it has been shown to cause hypersensitivity reactions, asthma, and may contain carcinogenic elements. Plus do you have kids, if so watch out! According to the Centre for Science In The Public Interest, tartrazine has been linked to causing hyperactivity in children. And many parents who have removed this and other artificial colours from their kids diets have seen major improvements in their behvaviour.

The research on this is so strong that in Europe, labelling laws require that if a food contains tartrazine it must put a warning on the package indicating it “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children”. Holy smokes this does not sound like stuff I want to be eating.

The crazy thing is that adding this food colour to our pickles gives absolutely no nutritional value. It’s only purpose is to make the product look more appealing. But hold on a sec. Since when did we decide that pickles are more appealing when they have this bright florescent yellow hue! I mean come on, cucumbers don’t, so why should our pickles! If you look at natural pickles, the kind that contain no artificial colours, they are a beautiful dark green colour. What’s so bad about that?!

Now, while I strongly believe our pickles don’t need any added colour, companies do have an alternative. There are more natural food colour options like beta-carotene and turmeric that will provide the wild colour that apparently consumers are attracted to. So why aren’t companies using these healthier alternatives? 

farmer's garden pickles Well interestingly enough, some are. Vlasic for example, came out with a new pickle brand called Farmer’s Garden. After inspecting this label I noticed they have chosen to use beta-carotene to colour this pickle.

I emailed the company to see if I could find out why they chose to use beta-carotene in this brand but still use tartrazine in their regular Vlasic brand. I received no response. I called the company and when I finally was able to speak with someone they told me that they consider tartrazine to be a safe ingredient and it was a corporate decision to use it in their product. When I asked why if it was so safe they didn’t use it in their new Farmer’s Garden pickles, they had no comment. They said they would have someone get back to me about that. No one ever did.

We have to stop letting companies get away with this. Pickle companies need to stop using tartrazine and opt for healthier colour ingredients or no added colour at all!

#VoteWithYourFork for the food you believe in and stop buying pickles that contain tartrazine. If enough of us take action, companies will need to start listening and stop putting tartrazine in our pickles!

Please help spread the word 🙂 Thanks!

NOTE: A side note about pickles is that I’m not a huge fan of companies that use the ingredient “natural flavor” instead of using real flavors like herbs, spices, and veggies to flavor the pickles. Also, my absolute favorite pickles are the ones that are made in a salt and water brine, and are fermented (I buy these ones). These pickles provide yummy bacteria that make our digestive system very happy. Making the pickles in brine is slightly more challenging so most companies use vinegar instead. Pickles made with vinegar don’t have the same beneficial bacteria but they aren’t bad for you – they just aren’t quite as good.

Leave me a comment below and let me know what your favorite pickles are! I would love to hear from you.