Tartrazine: Wikis


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CAS number 1934-21-0 Yes check.svgY
PubChem 6321403
Molecular formula C16H9N4Na3O9S2
Molar mass 534.3 g/mol
 Yes check.svgY (what is this?)  (verify)
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C, 100 kPa)
Infobox references
Inca Kola would be colorless without tartrazine.

Tartrazine (otherwise known as E number E102 or C.I. 19140) is a synthetic lemon yellow azo dye used as a food coloring [1]. It is water soluble[2] and has a maximum absorbance in an aqueous solution at 427±2 nm.[3]

Tartrazine is a commonly used color all over the world, mainly for yellow, but can also be used with Brilliant Blue FCF (FD&C Blue 1, E133) or Green S (E142) to produce various green shades.


Products containing tartrazine


Many foods contain tartrazine in varying proportions, depending on the manufacturer or the cook in charge, although nowadays the trend is to avoid it or substitute a non-synthetic dyeing substance such as annatto, malt color, or betacarotene[citation needed](see Sensitivities & Intolerance, below).

Products including tartrazine commonly include confectionery, cotton candy, soft drinks (Mountain Dew), energy drinks, instant puddings, flavored corn chips (Doritos, Nachos, etc), cereals (corn flakes, muesli, etc.), cake mixes, pastries, custard powder, soups (particularly instant or "cube" soups), sauces, some rices (like paella, risotto, etc.), powdered drink mixes, sports drinks, ice cream, ice pops, candy, Peeps marmallow treats, chewing gum, marzipan, jam, jelly, gelatins, marmalade, mustard, horseradish, yogurt, noodles, pickles and other pickled products, certain brands of fruit squash, fruit cordial, potato chips, Biscuits, and many convenience foods together with glycerin, lemon and honey products.

Non-food products

Soaps, cosmetics, shampoos and other hair products, moisturizers, crayons, Hand Sanitizer and stamp dyes.


Vitamins, antacids, medicinal capsules and certain prescription drugs.

Sensitivities and intolerance

Tartrazine appears to cause the most allergic and intolerance reactions of all the azo dyes, particularly among asthmatics and those with an aspirin intolerance.[4] Symptoms from tartrazine sensitivity can occur by either ingestion or cutaneous exposure to a substance containing tartrazine.[citation needed]

A variety of immunologic responses have been attributed to tartrazine ingestion, including anxiety, migraines, clinical depression, blurred vision, itching, general weakness, heatwaves, feeling of suffocation, purple skin patches, and sleep disturbance.[5]

Certain people who are exposed to the dye experience symptoms of tartrazine sensitivity even at extremely small doses, some for periods up to 72 hours after exposure.[citation needed] In children, asthma attacks and hives have been claimed, as well as supposed links to thyroid tumors, chromosomal damage, and hyperactivity.[6]

The mechanism of sensitivity is obscure and has been called pseudoallergic. The prevalence of tartrazine intolerance is estimated at roughly 360,000 Americans affected, about 0.12% of the general population.[7] According to the FDA, tartrazine causes hives in fewer than 1 in 10,000 people, or 0.01%.[8]

A 1994 study at the University of Melbourne suggested that children previously identified as hyperactive may exhibit an increase in irritability, restlessness, and sleep disturbance after ingesting tartrazine.[5]

It is not clear to what extent these problems can be specifically linked to tartrazine in affected individuals. The existence of a sensitivity reaction is well-known, but the existence of more extreme effects remain controversial. The incidence of tartrazine intolerance is fairly low as indicated above, and there is much controversy about whether tartrazine has ill effects on individuals who are not clearly intolerant.

Total avoidance is the most common way to deal with tartrazine sensitivity,[9] but progress has been made in reducing people’s tartrazine sensitivity in a study of people who are simultaneously sensitive to both aspirin and tartrazine.[10]

Research in mammals

  • Tartrazine has a noticeable effect on the behavior of young mice.[11][12]
  • Tartrazine inflamed the stomach lining (increased the number of lymphocytes and eosinophils) of rats when given in the diet for a prolonged period of time.[13]

Possible health effects

On September 6, 2007, the British Food Standards Agency revised advice on certain artificial food additives, including tartrazine.

Professor Jim Stevenson from Southampton University, and author of the report, said: "This has been a major study investigating an important area of research. The results suggest that consumption of certain mixtures of artificial food colours and sodium benzoate preservative are associated with increases in hyperactive behaviour in children[citation needed].

"However, parents should not think that simply taking these additives out of food will prevent hyperactive disorders. We know that many other influences are at work but this at least is one a child can avoid."

The following additives were tested in the research:

On April 10, 2008, the Food Standards Agency called for a voluntary removal of the colors (but not sodium benzoate) by 2009.[15] In addition, it recommended that there should be action to phase them out in food and drink in the European Union (EU) over a specified period.[16]

UK ministers have agreed that the six colorings will be phased out by 2009.[17]


Because of the problem of tartrazine intolerance, the United States requires the presence of tartrazine to be declared on food and drug products (21 CFR 74.1705, 21 CFR 201.20) and also the color batch used to be pre-approved by the FDA.[8] The FDA regularly seizes products if found to be containing undeclared tartrazine, declared but not tested by them or if labeled other than FD&C yellow 5. Such products seized often include Chinese "egg noodles."[18]

The use of tartrazine is banned in Norway, and was also banned in Austria and Germany until the ban was overturned by a European Union directive.[citation needed]

The United Kingdom's Food Standards Agency called in April 2008 for a voluntary phase-out of tartrazine along with five other colorings, due to a reported link with hyperactivity in children.[19]

Organic foods typically use beta carotene as an additive when yellow color is desired and more use has been made of annatto (E160b) for non-organic foods.


Rumors began circulating about tartrazine in the 1990s regarding a link to its consumption and adverse effects on male potency, testicle and penis size and sperm count. There are no documented cases supporting the claim that tartrazine will shrink a man's penis or cause it to stop growing. No research has shown that Yellow-5 containing beverages will decrease sperm count either.[20]


  1. ^ Food Standards Australia New Zealand. "Food Additives- Numerical List". http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/newsroom/publications/choosingtherightstuff/foodadditivesnumeric1680.cfm. Retrieved 2 December 2009. 
  2. ^ http://siri.org/msds/f2/ccd/ccdqw.html
  3. ^ Jain, Rajeev; Bhargava, Meenakshi; Sharma, Nidhi (2003). "Electrochemical Studies on a Pharmaceutical Azo Dye:  Tartrazine". Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research 42: 243. doi:10.1021/ie020228q. 
  4. ^ "E102 Tartrazine, FD&C yellow No.5". UK Food Guide. http://www.ukfoodguide.net/e102.htm. Retrieved 2007-11-30. 
  5. ^ a b Rowe KS, Rowe KJ (November 1994). "Synthetic food coloring and behavior: a dose response effect in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, repeated-measures study". The Journal of Pediatrics 125 (5 Pt 1): 691–8. doi:10.1016/S0022-3476(94)70059-1. PMID 7965420. 
  6. ^ "Food Reactions website". Foodreactions.org. http://www.foodreactions.org/allergy/additives/100.html#Tests. Retrieved 2009-04-15. 
  7. ^ Elhkim MO, Héraud F, Bemrah N, et al. (April 2007). "New considerations regarding the risk assessment on Tartrazine An update toxicological assessment, intolerance reactions and maximum theoretical daily intake in France". Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology 47 (3): 308–16. doi:10.1016/j.yrtph.2006.11.004. PMID 17218045. 
  8. ^ a b "Does FD&C Yellow No. 5 cause any allergic reactions?". United States Food and Drug Administration. http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/qa-adf5.html. Retrieved 2007-10-20. 
  9. ^ Dipalma JR (November 1990). "Tartrazine sensitivity". American Family Physician 42 (5): 1347–50. PMID 2239641. 
  10. ^ Michel O, Naeije N, Bracamonte M, Duchateau J, Sergysels R (May 1984). "Decreased sensitivity to tartrazine after aspirin desensitization in an asthmatic patient intolerant to both aspirin and tartrazine". Annals of Allergy 52 (5): 368–70. PMID 6721262. 
  11. ^ Tanaka T, Takahashi O, Oishi S, Ogata A (October 2008). "Effects of tartrazine on exploratory behavior in a three-generation toxicity study in mice". Reproductive Toxicology 26 (2): 156–63. doi:10.1016/j.reprotox.2008.07.001. PMID 18687399. 
  12. ^ Tanaka T (February 2006). "Reproductive and neurobehavioural toxicity study of tartrazine administered to mice in the diet". Food and Chemical Toxicology 44 (2): 179–87. doi:10.1016/j.fct.2005.06.011. PMID 16087284. 
  13. ^ Moutinho IL, Bertges LC, Assis RV (February 2007). "Prolonged use of the food dye tartrazine (FD&C yellow no 5) and its effects on the gastric mucosa of Wistar rats". Brazilian Journal of Biology 67 (1): 141–5. doi:10.1590/S1519-69842007000100019. PMID 17505761. 
  14. ^ "Parents warned of additives link". BBC News. 2007-09-06. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6979976.stm. Retrieved 2009-04-15. 
  15. ^ BBC Europe-wide food colour ban call April 10, 2008
  16. ^ FSA Board discusses colours advice April 10, 2008
  17. ^ BBC Ministers agree food colour ban November 12, 2008
  18. ^ ORA. "IMPORT ALERT IA4502". Fda.gov. http://www.fda.gov/ora/fiars/ora_import_ia4502.html. Retrieved 2009-04-15. 
  19. ^ "Europe-wide food colour ban call". BBC News. April 10, 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7340426.stm. 
  20. ^ "Urban Legends Reference Pages: Mountain Dew Shrinks Testicles". www.snopes.com. 2005-12-31. http://www.snopes.com/medical/potables/mountaindew.asp. Retrieved 2008-04-25. 

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