Don't panic, it's probably safe.

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ranch dressing
Getty / BWFolsom
| Credit: Getty / BWFolsom

Ranch dressing tastes great on fries, veggies, chicken wings and, of course, on a bed of greens to wake up that lunchtime salad. But I just learned that some ranch dressing is actually dyed, and it made me wonder if I should swap out my favorite dressing for something that's not filled with chemicals. I asked Kelly Jones, M.S., RD, CSSD, to help ease my concerns—here's what she said.

Why Is Ranch Dressing Dyed?

"Titanium dioxide, an ingredient often used in body care items, especially sunscreen and face lotions, helps provide the white color in ranch dressing," says Jones. But is the pigment that gives ranch its classic color dangerous?

Since it's used in such small quantities in food, most scientists don't think it's inherently dangerous. The FDA allows titanium dioxide in foods, but it can't exceed 1% of the product. There is, however, some research that links it to inflammation in the gut. One study also found titanium dioxide particles to generate free radicals, but more research is needed to better determine whether there might be any long-term health risks.

Some brands of ranch dressing (and other white-hued dressings like Caesar) still contain titanium dioxide, but the good news is that you can check the back of your label to see if it's listed.

The Bottom Line

Not enough is known to be too crazed about the use of dye in ranch dressing. So, as long as you enjoy it in moderation, you should be fine. "I recommend avoiding regular intake of additives like titanium dioxide, but it isn't worth obsessing over the small amounts you may get while dining out or other less common occasions," explains Jones.

If you're still concerned, you could switch to a bottled dressing that's free of titanium dioxide. Jones says, "While [some brands] may include titanium dioxide, there are just as many natural products on the market that may give you the ranch you crave without the additives."

If you like bottled ranch dressing, you could try Sir Kensington's Ranch Dressing with Lime, Thrive Market's Ranch Dressing or Tessemae's Ranch Dressing (they're all free of titanium dioxide). Or you could always make your own healthier DIY ranch dressings and dips at home.