Ponceau 4R is a bright red synthetic dye used to colour food. The name comes the French word for poppy. It is part of a family of dyes called Ponceau dyes.
Other names include Cochineal Red A, New Coccine, CI Food Red 7, or CI (1975) No. 16255.1
Ponceau dyes are azo dyes meaning they are formed when two hydrocarbon groups are joined by two nitrogen atoms. The molecular formula for Ponceau 4R is C20H11N2Na3O10S3.
Ponceau 4R, like all azo dyes, is produced from petroleum products.
The E number of Ponceau 4R is 124. Other dyes in the Ponceau family include:
Ponceau 4R is currently not approved for use in the US or Canada. However, it is still commonly used in other parts of the world (including Europe).
It is used to colour a wide range of products; everything from candies to Chorizero sausage spices. In the US, imported products containing Ponceau 4R are recalled by the FDA.2
Health Issues / Side Effects:
In 2009, the European Food Safety Authority re-evaluated Ponceau-4R used as a food colouring.3 The panel concluded that:
- There were no long term carcinogenic effects.
- Combinations of artifical food dyes (including Ponceau 4R) and sodium benzoate have a small but measurable effect on the activity and attention of children.