DOING IT BETTER: Taking blue dye out of tube feedings

February 2004 
Volume 34  Number 2
Pages 14 - 14
  PDF Version Available!



    ASPIRATION OF TUBE feeding formula is a serious risk associated with tube feeding. Adding blue food coloring (FD&C Blue No. 1, or Blue 1) to the formula has long been a common nursing practice for detecting feeding formula aspiration. The rationale was that if respiratory secretions had a blue tint, the caregiver would know that the patient had aspirated stomach contents. Although widely used, this practice has never been validated by controlled research.

    Now evidence against the practice is mounting: The dangers of adding dye to enteral feedings may outweigh the benefits for most patients. In recent years, compelling case reports, a review of practice standards, and a consensus report have suggested a potential link between use of food coloring and death in certain at-risk individuals. In a health advisory issued last September, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned against this practice. (See “Tube Feeding ...

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