What is ANNATTO? It is the ground up seeds of Achiote tree, which is found in South America, Carribean and some tropical climates. It is now used widely by the processed food industry as a “natural alternative” to the chemical/synthetic food dyes (like Yellow 05, etc). There is now evidence of Annatto causing many food allergies, and in our case ASTHMA and SEAL LIKE/CROUP Cough in our son.
Where is Annatto found in foods? Yellow foods mostly–such as yellow cheeses, processed snacks and baked goods, lots of dairy products, margines, cakes, sausages, and the #1 for us is certain flavors of Pepperidge Farm Goldfish.
OUR STORY: We had identified our son having “synthetic” food dye allergies/sensitivities a few years ago, but we had no idea that ANNATTO, which is a supposed natural alternative to food dyes, was actually the CAUSE of our sons’ asthma flair ups for the past 5 years. After ingesting a product with annatto during the day, within an hour of going to bed he would start with a seal-like croupy cough. It was strange that he didn’t react right away to Annatto after ingesting, but instead the cough would flair up at night at first. After eating Annatto for a few days however, he would then develop more inflammation such as a nasal drip and constant coughing and wheezing during the day as well. We tried all sorts of allergy medicines to dry up the drip, and by a week of ingesting annatto daily we would start his steroid inhaler as well as the rescue inhaler routine. It’s worth noting that he had no fever or other symptoms during these flair ups–that was a big clue for me that it could be food related. (NOTE: I don’t know if organic Annatto might be less reactive for our son–too afraid to try that experiment.) Once we discovered that annatto was the #1 cause of our child’s asthma flair ups, we were super vigilent about checking all ingredients in the foods he ate.
If your child or someone you know has been diagnosed with asthma and this seal-like barky cough sounds familiar, I urge you to share this information. It’s a simple experiment–eliminate annatto from their diet and see if their symptoms improve. It’s worth noting that if your child is super inflammed, it could take several days to see improvement so stay vigilent. As parents, we would do anything to help our children. My hope is that in spreading our story, we help at least one other family out there suffering with this same issue.
Many blessings to you and your family!