Do Oreos Have Red Dye 40? (Some Contain It!)

Original Oreos do not contain Red Dye 40.

In fact, the two outside cookies are colored with black cocoa powder. This type of cocoa achieves its dark color from being heavily dutched, a process using an alkaline to remove the cocoa’s acidity.

Of course, the creme center wouldn’t be white if it contained Red 40. While the ingredients don’t specially break down what is used to produce the creme, it is likely made with palm oil, high fructose corn syrup, soy lecithin, and artificial flavor.

Below is an ingredient list for Oreo cookies. The manufacturer is required to list Red 40 and other artificial dyes in the list of ingredients. You’ll notice the absence of artificial dyes in these classic cookies.

  • Unbleached Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate {Vitamin B1}, Riboflavin {Vitamin B2}, Folic Acid)
  • Sugar
  • Palm Oil
  • Soybean and/or Canola Oil
  • Cocoa (Processed with Alkali)
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Leavening (Baking Soda and/or Calcium Phosphate)
  • Salt
  • Soy Lecithin
  • Chocolate
  • Artificial Flavor

In case you are wondering, most Oreo Knock Offs also don’t contain red dye in their chocolate sandwich creme cookies. You can find caramel color in some which has its own concerns.

Red 40 In Oreos: Other Flavors

The above information applies to only Original Oreos. But, what about the other flavors and varieties? Do they have Red Dye 40 or other artificial dyes in them? Let’s find out.

The table below in light blue reflects the dyes used in the different varieties of Oreos, if any. In summary of this data, the following Oreos contain Red 40 and should be avoided if you desire to not consume this dye:

  • Red Velvet
  • Birthday Cake
  • Java Chip
  • Caramel Coconut
  • Toffee Crunch
  • Pumpkin Spice
  • Cotton Candy

Be aware that there are Oreos that have artificial dyes but not Red 40. For example, Mint has Yellow 5 Lake, Blue 1 Lake but no Red 40.

OREO ProductContains Red Dye 40 (Yes or No?)Coloring Used
Double StufNoNone
Mega StufNoNone
OREO ThinsNoNone
OREO Thins Extra StufNo None
Golden Double StufNoNone
Golden ThinsNoNone
Dark Chocolate NoNone
Dark Chocolate ThinsNo None
Red VelvetYesRed 40 Lake
Boo (Chocolate Cookie w/ Orange Colored Creme)NoYellow 6 Lake, Yellow 5 Lake
Birthday CakeYesYellow 5, Blue 1, Red 40, Red 3
Java ChipYesYellow 5 Lake, Red 40 Lake, Blue 1 Lake
Caramel Coconut YesYellow 5 Lake, Red 40 Lake, Blue 1 Lake
Toffee CrunchYesYellow 5 Lake, Red 40 Lake, Blue 1 Lake, Caramel Color
Chocolate CremeNoNone
Chocolate HazelnutNoNone
Chocolate Peanut ButterNoNone
Chocolate Peanut Butter PieNoCaramel Color
LemonNoAnnatto Extract
Lemon ThinsNoAnnatto Extract
MintNoYellow 5 Lake, Blue 1 Lake
Mint ThinsNoYellow 5 Lake, Blue 1 Lake
Pumpkin SpiceYesPaprika Oleoresin, Red 40 Lake, Yellow 5 Lake, Blue 2 Lake
Blackout Cake NoNone
Fudge CoveredNoNone
Cotton Candy YesRed 40 Lake, Blue 1 Lake, Blue 2 Lake
S’mOREO NoCaramel Color
Super Mario NoNone
OREO Gluten-FreeNoNone
OREO Double Stuf Gluten-FreeNoNone
Ingredients can change without notice. If consuming Red 40 or other ingredients is a concern for you, it is important to read the ingredients printed on the actual Oreo packaging. These ingredients will be the most accurate and up-to-date which can be relied upon to make informed buying decisions.

Red 40 Potential Concerns

Red Dye 40 adds vibrant colors to a variety of products ranging from candies to beverages. While it enhances the visual appeal of many of our favorite treats, it’s essential to be aware of potential side effects associated with its consumption.

Here is how Red 40 may potentially impact our health:

1. Allergic Reactions:

  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Swelling, especially around the face, lips, and tongue
  • Sneezing

2. Hyperactivity and Behavioral Changes:

  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Increased impulsivity, particularly in children

3. Migraines and Headaches:

  • Red Dye 40 has been potentially linked to triggering migraines and headaches in some individuals.

4. Gastrointestinal Distress:

  • Nausea
  • Upset stomach
  • Diarrhea

5. Respiratory Issues:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Asthma-like symptoms in susceptible individuals

6. Potential Carcinogenicity:

  • Although controversial, some studies suggest a potential link between Red Dye 40 and an increased risk of certain cancers. Benzene is the substance in Red 40 that is the cancer concern.

7. Impact on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD):

  • While research is ongoing, there is speculation that Red Dye 40 may exacerbate symptoms in individuals with ADHD.

It’s crucial to note that sensitivity to food additives can vary among individuals. Some may experience no adverse effects, while others may be more susceptible.

As consumers, being informed about the ingredients in our food allows us to make conscious choices for our well-being. If you suspect sensitivity to Red Dye 40, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional, who can provide personalized advice based on your health history and symptoms.

Cleveland Clinic. (2023, March 8). Is Red Dye 40 Safe? The color additive found in many pre-packaged foods may affect those with ADHD or allergies. Health Essentials Newsletter. Retrieved from