Dye in Enteral Feedings

Scope and Impact of the Problem

Risk for poor pulmonary outcomes is greatly increased in patients who experience repeated micro-aspirations.1 For this reason, clinicians strive to find a simple aspiration detection method to use at the bedside. Unfortunately, no such method is currently available.

It was once common practice to add blue food dye (FD&C Blue #1) to tube-feeding formula to facilitate aid in the detection of aspiration.2 However, this method is no longer recommended.3-10

A major reason for abandoning the blue dye method is potential for harm to some patients.4;11 Another reason is ineffectiveness of the dye method in detecting aspiration.12;13 Still another reason for discontinuing use of the dye method is reports of infection following the administration of contaminated dye to enteral feedings.14

Other blue dyes (such as FD&C Blue #2 or methylene blue) are inappropriate substitutes for FD&C Blue #1.15; 16

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