An edible color palette

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    An editable color palette (Photo and some cupcakes by Skylar Challand for Jessi Arrington’s Rainbow Birthday 2011)

    As designers, we know color is important. But when food is your medium, color can be powerful enough to influence taste—and affect health.

    Say hello to Blue No. 1, Yellow No. 5, and Red No. 40.

    These numbers make up part of an artificial color palette approved by the United States’ Food and Drug Administration. First introduced in 1906, the FDA’s Pure Food and Drug Act (and later the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act) was put in place to ensure the safety and wholesomeness of food products. Before this, more than eighty dyes were used to color food, without regulation—the same dye could be used to color both clothing and candy.

    Currently, the FD&C color palette features seven colors

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