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Investigating Food Dyes in Sports Beverages

Experiment #1 from Vernier Chemistry Investigations for Use with AP* Chemistry

Education Level
High School


There are many different brands of beverages that fall under the general category of “sports drinks.” Most of these beverages contain an FD&C food dye to color the beverage. There are a few options available to determine how much food dye is contained in a sports drink. A common, and very accurate, test method involves using an instrument called a spectrophotometer.

In brief, a spectrophotometer projects light through a small sample of a colored solution. The molecules in the solution allow some, but not all, of the wavelengths of light to pass through the sample and reach the spectrophotometer’s detector. By carefully analyzing what happens to light as it passes through a sample of liquid, a great deal can be learned about some of the molecules in the liquid.


The objective of this investigation is to determine the concentration of an FD&C food dye in a sports beverage. You will use a Vernier SpectroVis Plus spectrophotometer to conduct your tests.

How do I run the AP Chemistry food dye lab with a Colorimeter instead of a Spectrometer?

Sensors and Equipment

This experiment features the following sensors and equipment. Additional equipment may be required.

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This experiment is #1 of Vernier Chemistry Investigations for Use with AP* Chemistry. The experiment in the book includes student instructions as well as instructor information for set up, helpful hints, and sample graphs and data.

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