Use of colored dyes in enteral formulas

Kimberly Radich, Leslie A. Hildebrandt

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Colored food dyes, including methylene blue and FD&C Blue No. 1, are added to enteral formula by healthcare professionals to monitor patient aspiration. However, many enteral patients have impaired gastrointestinal tract integrity and food dyes could be absorbed. Tinting enteral formula has been found to cause allergic reactions, mitochondrial toxicity, skin discoloration, and hemolytic anemia. There are also accounts of infection and contamination by unsanitary practices related to dye administration. Case reports describe FD&C Blue No. 1 absorption by critically ill patients, and in some instances resulting in death. Instead of tinting enteral formula, aspiration prevention should be emphasized.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)226-233
Number of pages8
JournalTopics in Clinical Nutrition
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2006


  • Enternal formula
  • FD&C Blue No. 1
  • Food dye
  • Methylene blue dye


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