I read that commonly used food dyes are known carcinogens, having caused cancer in lab animals. Is it true?"

Food dyes regulated for use in foods in Australia are judged to be safe when used in the small quantities they are found in foods. The body that oversees ingredients in our food, Food Standards Australia New Zealand, approves food additives before they can be used. They take into account research about the additive and whether it is safe to consume over a lifetime at the levels it is found in foods. 

Some dyes that have been found to cause cancer in rats at high doses have been judged to be safe at levels consumed in food and drink. Most food dyes are found in ultra-processed foods that we should only be eating sometimes and in small amounts, such as soft drinks and confectionery. 

A healthy diet, with fresh vegetables and fruit and other minimally processed foods, will minimise exposure to food dyes. The best evidence we have for lowering our cancer risk is to not smoke, avoid excess weight gain, do plenty of physical activity and eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes such as beans.