Picture of a Sunset
Sunset Yellow

Sunset Yellow FCF

Sunset yellow FCF, also known as yellow dye #6, is used to give foods an orange-yellow colour.


Sunset yellow is looks like an orange-red powder.1 It is another azo dye, similar to tartrazine, and allura red. An azo dye is a chemical compound where two hydrocarbon groups are joined by two nitrogen atoms. The letters azo are derived from the french word for nitrogen, azote.

Azo dyes account for roughly 60 to 70% of all dyes used in the food and textile industries.2 The reason they are so popular is that azo dyes are cheap to produce and are more stable than most natural food dyes.

If you’re interested in the scientific chemical name, it is Disodium 6-hydroxy-5-(4-sulfonatophenylazo)-2-naphthalene-sulfonate.  (Sunset yellow is much easier to pronounce).

The chemical formula is C16H10N2Na2O7S2

Common Uses:

Sunset Yellow FCF is used in many different types of products, ranging from soft drinks to candies and snack foods. Specific products include:

If you have other examples of products that contain tartrazine, let me know by leaving a comment.

Health Issues / Side Effects:

There have been reports that Sunset Yellow may cause allergic or intolerance reactions in certain people, particularly those with a pre-existing sensitivity to aspirin.  Other reports have linked it to increases in tumours, however, a review by the World Health Organization found no evidence of this (in either short or long term studies).3
If you have had personal experience with a tartrazine allergy, please leave us a comment.

E Number:

The E number for Sunset Yellow is 110. Other yellow dyes include tumeric/curcumin (E 100), riboflavin (E 101), tartrazine (E 102), and quinoline yellow (E 104).


So what does FCF stand for?

I’ve puzzled over that for a while. None of my sources seemed to provide an answer. Instead, there were just references to “Sunset Yellow FCF”.
It turns out that the answer might be very simple:
FCF = For Colouring Food


  1. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
  2. Azo Dyes – www.food-info.net
  3. University of Guelph Food Safety Network

Further Reading

Canadian Food Additive Dictionary

FDA Food Additive Status List

UK Foods Standards Agency, Approved Food Additives

Food Standards – Australia and New Zealand



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12 Comments on “Sunset Yellow FCF

  1. I am very interested in your informatin regarding Sunset Yellow E110. Ten years ago I identified it as the additive that triggered a very bad allergic reaction in me. The symptoms are: runny nose (clear), then sinuses mucous becomes infected. This leads to a very bad congestion which only cortisone and antibiotics can help reduce the discomfort of. I end up being sick for up to three/four weeks. In South Africa our labelling is very poor and whereas in other countries these colours are banned, not so here. Shopping and eating is very problematic for me. The tragedy is that my daughter, aged 33 has just become a victim of this dreadful reaction. She is still sick (and desperate) after 4 weeks and three lots of antibiotics. I would dearly like to find someone who understands how to clear one’s system from this reaction in the shortest possible time. The drug FACTIVE worked fairly quickly,with the aid of Prednisone.

  2. No! Why does Orange crush contain sunset yellow FCF? Now that I know, I won’t drink that orange crush anymore.

  3. I’ve been suffering from a really bad dermatitis for a couple years. I been treated with cortisone oinments, high dosis of antihistamine and all beauty I use are hypoallergenic… I have come to discover this dye makes my problem even worse… It’s been a nightmare since it is present in most processed foods.
    I guess is a called for a healtier diet.

    • Yes, it seems dyes are being used in so many processed foods! At least in your case, you’ve figured out what to avoid.

  4. I have been given antibiotics for tooth infection.
    I have always had reactions to both red and yellow colouring.
    I stopped the Amoxicillin (which contains sunset yellow) because of itching mainly but also puffy face and lack of sleep through sweats and nightmares. After two days the dentist changed the prescription to Erythromycin in spite of being told that I believed the problem to be in the colouring,
    and when I got the prescription home I found there was the same colourings in those tablets and I have had same bad effects
    Why can’t the pill manufacturers stick to plain white tablets?
    Obviously I need to get rid of the infection.

  5. I have bronchiectasis and need Amoxillin quite regularly for chest infections. E110 makes me feel more ill and nauseas. I am now finding it quite hard to find a chemist which stock Amoxillin without E110.

  6. I am allergic to aspirin and have had even greater reactions to sunset yellow. I first discovered it when I had an anaphylaxic shock to an antihistamines with a yellow coating. Luckily I live in England where labelling of foods and drugs is good. I cannot understand why manufacturers are allowed to use a substance which can endanger life when all they want is to colour something yellow. Can’t they find an alternative or produce food that is its real colour. I’m sure user would get used to it in time and most probably only want the enhancement because they are used to it. It drives me mad?

  7. Please ensure that everybody knows that Sunset Yellow is also used in cosmetics, hair shampoo, sun creams etc. I suffer from sunset yellow allergy and got caught twice by using products that contained it.

  8. I am very interested in your informatin regarding Sunset Yellow E110. Ten years ago I identified it as the additive that triggered a very bad allergic reaction in me. The symptoms are: runny nose (clear), I would dearly like to find someone who understands how to clear one’s system from this reaction in the shortest possible time

  9. Question? What is the purpose of sunset yellow FCF in Dilantin (anti-seizure medication) i recently was prescribed this so i was inclined to look up the ingredients/side effects and sunset yellow fcf was a listed ingredient. Not understanding its purpose in my medication…

  10. I have just started metamucil and it contains sunset yellow and I have been experiencing really hyped,Jittery and over whelmed symptoms to the point I get really emotional…but all the symptoms have only started and increased when I take it…I told my husband it is since starting it…and he said I had symptoms of adhd

  11. I just tried IRN BRU carbonated soft drink. It has Sunset Yellow
    FCF #6. It makes my tongue stiff I have hard time pronouncing words. I am glad for your article I should have read it before buying this product.

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