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Food Colour Index


Group by name and E number

For information about a specific E number, click on any of the buttons below. Artificial colours are signified by a dropper while natural colours are signified by a leaf. The colours are also highlighted by the actual shade of pigment which they impart in a food.

If you want to know about food colours in general, take a look at our FAQs.




E100

Curcumin

Source

A natural colour which comes from the Turmeric plant root.

Used in

Beverages, condiments, jams, jellies, marmalades, confectionery, dairy products, fish products, dietary supplements, processed meats and vegetables,

Description

E100 is used worldwide, particularly in South East Asian foods. Curcumin is not banned as a food additive anywhere. Curcumin is currently being investigated for its potential health benefits in diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, allergies and arthritis.

E101

Riboflavins

Source

A natural colour which comes from yeast extract, liver and kidney, wheat bran, eggs, meat, milk and cheese.

Used in

Beverages, processed meats, condiments, breakfast cereals, dairy products, fruit products, energy drinks and dietary supplements.

Description

E101 is used worldwide and is not banned as a food additive anywhere. Riboflavin is also known as Vitamin B2, which is essential for our health. The recommended daily allowance of riboflavin is between 0.7 and 1.7 mg/day depending on age and gender.

E102

Tartrazine

Source

A kind of dye called an Azo dye that is produced from coal tar.

Used in

Confectionery, soft drinks, cereals, soups, sauces, preserves, processed peas, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.

Description

Some people may be intolerant to Tartrazine. One of the ‘Southampton Six’ colours; E102 was one of a mixture of colours that were associated with hyperactivity in children. Although previously banned in Norway, Austria and Germany, E102 has been deemed safe for use by the European Food Safety Authority which has recommended a safe level of consumption. The UK Food Standards Agency called for a voluntary phase-out of E102 by 2009. In the EU, food and drink products containing E102 must carry the label warning ‘may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children’.

E104

Quinoline Yellow

Source

A kind of dye called a quinophthalone dye that is produced from coal tar.

Used in

Jams, jellies, marmalades, soft drinks, confectionery and smoked haddock.

Description

Some people may be sensitive to Quinoline Yellow. One of the ‘Southampton Six’; Quinoline Yellow was one of a mixture of colours that were associated with hyperactivity in children. E104 is not a permitted food colour in the USA or Canada. The European Food Safety Authority has recommended a safe level of consumption for E104. The UK Food Standards Agency called for a voluntary phase-out of E104 by 2009. In the EU, food and drink products containing E104 must carry the label warning ‘may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children’.

E110

Sunset Yellow FCF

Source

A kind of dye called an Azo dye, that is produced from coal tar and petroleum.

Used in

Soft drinks, confectionery, jams, jellies, marmalades, soups, condiments, processed meats, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.

Description

Some people may be sensitive to Sunset Yellow. One of the ‘Southampton Six’ colours; Sunset Yellow was one of a mixture of colours that were associated with hyperactivity in children; E110 is not banned as a food additive anywhere. The European Food Safety Authority has recommended a safe level of consumption for E110. The UK Food Standards Agency called for a voluntary phase-out of E104 by 2009. In the EU, food and drink products containing E110 must carry the label warning ‘may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children’.

E120

Carmine

Source

A natural colour that comes from the body and eggs of an insect. It is more commonly known as "cochineal".

Used in

Cheeses, beverages, breakfast cereals, jams, jellies, marmalades, processed meats, fabric dye, insect repellent, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.

Description

Cochineal can trigger an allergic reaction in sensitive individuals although Cochineal allergy is rare. Cochineal is not banned anywhere, although its consumption is prohibited by certain religions. The European Food Safety Authority is due to investigate the safety of E120 by the end of 2015. Safe consumption levels have already been recommended by the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Health Organization. Peru is the biggest exporter of this food colour, but cochineal is also produced in Spain, Africa and Australia.

E122

Azorubin

Source

A kind of dye called an Azo dye that is produced from coal tar and petroleum.

Used in

Fabric dye, insect repellent, mouthwash, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.

Description

One of the ‘Southampton Six’ colours; Azorubin was one of a mixture of colours that were associated with hyperactivity in children; E122 is not a permitted food colour in the USA or Canada. The European Food Safety Authority has recommended a safe level of consumption for E122. The UK Food Standards Agency called for a voluntary phase-out of E122 by 2009. In the EU, food and drink products containing E122 must carry the warning label ‘may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children’.

E123

Amaranth

Source

A kind of dye called an Azo dye that is produced from petroleum by-products.

Used in

Beverages, alcoholic drinks and fish roe.

Description

E123 is not a permitted food colour in the USA, but the European Food Safety Authority has recommended a safe level of consumption for E123.

E124

Ponceau 4R

Source

A kind of dye called an Azo dye that is produced from coal tar and petroleum.

Used in

Beverages, jams, jellies, marmalades and processed meats.

Description

Some people may be sensitive to Ponceau 4R. One of the ‘Southampton Six’ colours; Ponceau 4R was one of a mixture of colours that were associated with hyperactivity in children. The European Food Safety Authority has recommended a safe level of consumption for E124. The UK Food Standards Agency called for a voluntary phase-out of E124 by 2009. In the EU, food and drink products containing E124 must carry the warning label 'may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children'.

E127

Erythrosine

Source

A kind of dye called a fluorone dye, which contains iodine.

Used in

Used in the EU in cherries (candied, cocktail and Bigarreaux) only.

Description

E127 is permitted in the USA in food and ingested drugs. However, it is not permitted in cosmetics and external drugs. The European Food Safety Authority has recommended safe levels of consumption for E127.

E129

Allura red AC

Source

A kind of dye called an Azo dye that is produced from coal tar and petroleum.

Used in

Soft drinks and processed meats.

Description

Some people may be sensitive to Allura red AC. One of the ‘Southampton Six’ colours; Allura Red AC was one of a mixture of colours that were associated with hyperactivity in children. E129 is not banned as a food additive anywhere. The European Food Safety Authority has recommended a safe level of consumption for E129.

E131

Patent Blue V

Source

An artificial dye that is produced from coal tar.

Used in

Scotch eggs and jelly sweets. Also used for medical diagnostic purposes to colour lymph vessels.

Description

E131 is not a permitted food colour in USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The European Food Safety Authority is currently re-evaluating the safety of E131.

E132

Indigotine, Indigo Carmine

Source

An artificial dye that is produced from coal tar.

Used in

Ice-cream, sweets, baked goods, confectionery, and biscuits.

Description

E132 is a permitted food colour worldwide. The European Food Safety Authority is currently re-evaluating the safety of E132.

E133

Brilliant Blue FCF

Source

An artificial dye that is produced from petroleum.

Used in

Ice-cream, canned processed peas, packet soups, bottled food colourings, dairy products and sweets.

Description

E133 is a permitted food colour worldwide. The European Food Safety Authority has recommended a safe level of consumption for E133.

E140

Chlorophylls and chlorophyllins

Source

A natural colour which is present in all plants and algae. Chlorophylls used as a food additive are usually extracted from nettles, grass and alfalfa.

Used in

Pasta, absinthe, cheeses, preserved vegetables, jams, jellies and marmalades.

Description

E140 is not a listed food colour in the USA. The European Food Safety Authority will re-evaluate the safety of E131 by the end of 2015. Research into the antioxidant properties of chlorophyll is ongoing as these may prove beneficial in the treatment and prevention of cancer.

E141

Copper complexes of chlorophylls

Source

A natural colour which is produced from green, leafy vegetables.

Used in

Cheeses, ice-cream, soups, preserved vegetables and fruits.

Description

The European Food Safety Authority will re-evaluate the safety of E131 by the end of 2015. The antioxidant potential of E141 is being researched for use in cancer prevention. It is also used for the treatment of wounds, injuries and other skin conditions.

E142

Green S

Source

An artificial dye that is produced from coal tar.

Used in

Desserts, processed peas, gravy granules, ice-cream, mint sauce, sweets, cake mixes, jams, jellies and marmalades.

Description

E142 is not a permitted food colour in the USA and Canada. The European Food Safety Authority has recommended safe levels of consumption for E142.

E150a

Caramel (Plain)

Source

An artificial colour created through heat treatment of carbohydrates in the presence of acids, alkalis and salts. No ammonium or sulfite compounds can be used.

Used in

Bread, cakes, confectionery, preserved vegetables, fish and shellfish spreads, jams, jellies, marmalades, pickles, soft drinks, vinegar, alcoholic drinks, cheeses, breakfast cereals and processed meats.

Description

E150a is a permitted food colour worldwide. The European Food Safety Authority has recommended a safe level of consumption for E150a which is one of the oldest and most widely-used food colourings.

E150b

Caramel (Caustic sulphite)

Source

An artificial colour created through heat treatment of carbohydrates in the presence of sulfite compounds, but no ammonium compounds can be used.

Used in

Bread, cakes, confectionery, jams, jellies, marmalades, pickles, soft drinks, vinegar, alcoholic drinks, cheeses and breakfast cereals.

Description

E150b is a permitted food colour worldwide. The European Food Safety Authority has recommended a safe level of consumption for E150b, which is one of the oldest and most widely-used food colourings.

E150c

Caramel (Ammonia)

Source

An artificial colour created through heat treatment of carbohydrates in the presence of ammonium compounds, but no sulphite compounds can be used.

Used in

Soy sauce, confectionery, alcoholic drinks, cheese, soft drinks, breakfast cereals, preserved vegetables, jams, jellies, marmalades and processed meats.

Description

E150c is a permitted food colour worldwide. The European Food Safety Authority has recommended a safe level of consumption for E150c, which is one of the oldest and most widely-used food colourings.

E150d

Caramel (Sulphite ammonia)

Source

An artificial colour created through heat treatment of carbohydrates in the presence of both sulfite and ammonium compounds.

Used in

Breads, alcoholic drinks, soft drinks, preserved vegetables, jams, jellies, marmalades and processed meats.

Description

E150d is a permitted food colour worldwide. The European Food Safety Authority has recommended a safe level of consumption for E150d which is one of the oldest and most widely-used food colourings.

E151

Brilliant Black BN

Assorted Cup Cakes
Slices of Cake in a line

Source

A kind of dye called an azo dye.

Used in

Sweets, desserts, mustard, jams, food decorations and coatings, soft drinks, fish paste and caviar.

Description

E151 is not a permitted food colour in the USA and Canada. The European Food Safety Authority has recommended a safe level of consumption for E151.

E153

Vegetable carbon

Source

A natural colour created by burning vegetable matter.

Used in

Cheeses, concentrated fruit juices, jams, jellies, marmalades, and liquorice.

Description

E153 is not a permitted food colour in the USA. The European Food Safety Authority has re-evaluated the safety of E153 and did not identify a cause for safety concern.

E155

Brown HT

Source

A kind of dye called an Azo dye that is produced from coal tar and petroleum.

Used in

Confectionery, cheeses, dairy products, jams, fruit products and fish.

Description

E155 is not a permitted food colour in the USA and Canada. The European Food Safety Authority has recommended a safe level of consumption for E155.

E160a

Mixed carotenes

Source

A natural colour found in carrots, green-leafed vegetables and tomatoes.

Used in

Butter and soft margarines, cheeses, breakfast cereals, jams, jellies, marmalades, processed meats, preserved vegetables, coffee sponge cakes and milk products.

Description

EFSA has evaluated the safety of E160a and concluded the consumption of this colour additive was not a concern provided the total intake did not exceed the normal background intake via the diet. E160a is used worldwide. E160a is converted to Vitamin A in the body. Carotenes are known to boost the immune system and are an important nutrient for good eye health.

E160b

Annatto

Source

A natural yellow, peach or red vegetable dye obtained from the seed coat of the fruit of the Achiote shrub.

Used in

Cheeses (e.g. Cheddar, Gloucester, Red Leicester, Gouda and Brie), margarine, butter, rice, custard powder, ice-cream, cream fillings & toppings, smoked fish, breakfast cereals, liqueurs.

Description

Some people may be allergic to Annatto. The European Food Safety Authority will re-evalaute the safety of E160b by the end of 2015. E160b is used worldwide.

E160c

Paprika extract

Source

A natural colour extracted from the fruit pod and seeds of the red pepper.

Used in

Cheese slices, breakfast cereals, jams, jellies, marmalades, chicken pies, orange juices, spice mixtures, sauces, sweets and processed meats.

Description

E160c is not a permitted food colour in Canada. The European Food Safety Authority is currently re-evaluating the safety of E160c.

E160d

Lycopene

Source

A natural colour found in tomatoes and other red fruits and vegetables, such as red carrots, watermelons and papayas, but not strawberries or cherries.

Used in

Tomato-based foods such as: soups, sauces, ketchup, jams, jellies and marmalades.

Description

E160d is not on the permitted food colours list in Canada. The European Food Safety Authority has recommended a safe level of consumption for E160d. Lycopene is thought to have antioxidant activity. A major claim for Lycopene's benefits is in the prevention and treatment of some types of cancers.

E160e

Beta-apo-8'-carotenal

Source

A natural colour made from carotene or isolated from plants.

Used in

Processed cheese.

Description

E160e is used worldwide. E160e is converted to Vitamin A in the body and can boost the immune system as well as being an important nutrient for eye health. The European Food Safety Authority has recommended a safe level of consumption for E160e.

E161b

Lutein

Source

A natural colour, present in many plants. It is made commercially from grass, nettles or marigolds.

Used in

E161b is added to chicken feed to ensure the yellow colour of egg yolks and chicken skin.

Description

E161b is not on the permitted list of food colours in the USA and Canada. The European Food Safety Authority has recommended a safe level of consumption for E161b. E161b an important nutrient for eye health and is thought to have antioxidant properties.

E161g

Canthaxanthin

Source

A natural colour found in a range of foods including mushrooms, crustaceans and fish. It is made commercially from beta-carotene.

Used in

Restricted to Saucisse de Strasbourg, animal feeding stuffs.

Description

E161g is not a permitted food colour in Australia and New Zealand. The European Food Safety Authority has recommended a safe level of consumption for E161g.

E162

Beetroot Red

Source

A natural colour produced from beets.

Used in

Bacon burgers, desserts, bacon burgers, desserts, ice-cream, jams, jellies, liquorice, oxtail soup, sauces and sweets.

Description

The European Food Safety Authority will re-evalaute the safety of E163 by the end of 2015. E162 is used worldwide.

E163

Anthocyanins

Source

A natural colour extracted from grape skins or red cabbage using water, methanol or ethanol.

Used in

Black cherry yoghurt, dairy products, glacé cherries, ice-cream, jellies, pickles, tomato, carrot or vegetable soups, soft drinks and sweets.

Description

The European Food Safety Authority will re-evaluate the safety of E163 by the end of 2015. E163 is used worldwide. E163 is a naturally occurring antioxidant and therefore it has health benefits.

E170

Calcium carbonates

Source

A natural colour found as chalk, limestone, marble, dolomite, eggshells, and the shells of many marine animals.

Used in

Biscuits, breads, cakes, ice-cream, sweets, vitamins and other tablets, canned fruit and vegetables, wine.

Description

E170 is not a permitted food colours in the USA or Canada, but is not deemed a safety risk by the European Food Safety Authority. E170 is a good source of calcium.

E171

Titanium dioxide

Source

A natural colour extracted from the mineral Ilmenite.

Used in

Tablets and capsules, cheeses (cottage and Mozzarella), horseradish cream and sauces, lemon curd, sweets, toothpaste.

Description

The European Food Safety Authority will re-evaluate the safety of E172 by the end of 2015. E171 is used worldwide.

E172

Iron oxides and hydroxides

Source

Naturally found in rusts, it is produced artificially from iron sulphate.

Used in

Cake and dessert mixes, meat paste, salmon and shrimp paste.

Description

The European Food Safety Authority will re-evaluate the safety of E172 by the end of 2015. E172 is used worldwide.

E173

Aluminium

Source

A natural colour smelted from Bauxite.

Used in

Decoration of cakes and pastries.

Description

E173 is not a permitted food colour in the USA. E173 can only be used for the external coating of sugar confectionery for the decoration of cakes and pastries.

E174

Silver

Source

A natural colour obtained from crushed ore containing silver.

Used in

Liquers. Also used to decorate cakes, pastries and chocolate.

Description

E174 is not on the list of permitted food colours in the USA. E174 can only be used for the external coating of sugar confectionery for the decoration of cakes and pastries. It can also be used in liquers. The European Food Safety Authority is currently re-evaluating the safety of E174.

E175

Gold

Source

A natural colour found in low concentrations in igneous rocks.

Used in

Liquers. Also used to decorate cakes, pastries and chocolate.

Description

E175 is not on the list of permitted food colours in the USA. The European Food Safety Authority is currently re-evaluating the safety of E175.

E180

Litholrubine BK

Source

A kind of dye called an Azo dye that is produced from coal tar and petroleum.

Used in

Cheese rind.

Description

E180 is not a permitted food colour in the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. E180 can only be used to colour cheese rind. The European Food Safety Authority considers it unlikely that E180 is a safety concern for humans because of its limited use in edible cheese rinds.




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