Green S

Picture of Green S
Picture of Green S

Green S is an Artificial Food Colour

Green S

Green S is a bright green artificial food dye from the triarylmethane dye family. It may also be called Food Green S, Lissamine Green, Wool Green BS, or Acid Green 50.

Description:

Triphenylmethane dyes tend to be brightly coloured. Many produce reactions in response to acids or bases. As a result, they are ofter used as pH indicators. Triarylmethane dyes are artificial organic compounds. They are all based on the compound triarylmethane which has the chemical formula (C6H5)3CH. It basically looks like three rings joined by a central hub, as shown:

Picture of Triphenylmethane structure

Triphenylmethane


The chemical formula of Green S is C27H25N2O7S2Na.

Common Uses:

Green S in not allowed in Canada1 or in the United States2. It has been approved for use the the E.U.3 and other countries.

It is used in a range of products, including:

Health Issues / Side Effects:

Studies on the absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion of Green S have found that Green S is poorly absorbed and mainly excreted unchanged4. There is a lack of data regarding the health effects of Green S. It should probably be noted that many groups associate it with the same health issues and risks attributed to other artificial food colours like Allura Red and Tartrazine.

E Number

The E number of Green S is 142. Other green dyes include Chlorophyll (E number, 140), Chlorophyll-copper complex (E number 141), and Fast Green FCF (E number 143).

Notes:

Besides being used as a food dye, it is used to stain living cells. It is commonly used in ophthalmology to diagnose problems on the surface of eyes.

Sources:

  1. Health Canada – List of Permitted Food Colours
  2. Summary of Color Additives for Use in the United States in Foods, Drugs, Cosmetics, and Medical Devices
  3. Current EU approved additives and their E Numbers
  4. Scientific Opinion on the re-evaluation of Green S (E 142) as a food
    additive
  5. Eye World – The Newsmagazine of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery
Posted in Colour, Food Additives

Food Additives

Mindmap diagram showing food additive categories
Mindmap diagram showing food additive categories

Food Additives

Food Additives

These days it is just about impossible to keep up with food additives. There are just so many, and often times it is hard to just find basic information about an ingredient listed on a food label.

The following set of diagrams is intended to help visualize the types and numbers of possible food additives you might encounter. Not all food additives listed are permitted for use in all countries. There might be some additives that are permitted that I haven’t included.

Note: Some of the images are quite large. Click on a diagram to view the image at it’s true size.

Food Additive Categories

I’ve divided food additives into nine categories. These categories are based on the categories used in Europe to determine an additives E Number. Some additives may have more than just one use, so they may not always be in the category you might expect.

Food Colourings

Mindmap diagram showing food colouring additives

Food Colourings

Anti-oxidents and Acidity Regulators

Mindmap diagram showing anti-oxident food additives

Anti-oxident and Acidity Regulators

Thickeners, Stabilizers and Emulsifiers

Mindmap diagram showing thickening food additives

Thickeners, Stabilizers and Emulsifiers

Flavour Enhancers

Mindmap diagram showing flavour additives

Flavour Enhancers

Sweeteners

Mindmap of sweeteners

Sweeteners

Preservatives

Mindmap of preservatives

Preservatives

Acidity Regulators and Anti-Caking Agents

mindmap acidity regulators and anti-caking agents

Acidity Regulators and Anti-caking Agents

Glazing Agents

mind map of glazing agents

Glazing Agents

Miscellaneous

mind map of miscellaneous food additives

Miscellaneous Food Additives

References:

  1. Current EU Approved Additives and their E Numbers
  2. Summary of Colour Additives for Use in the United States
  3. List of Permitted Colouring Agents in Canada
Posted in Food Additives

Carmoisine

Carmoisine Food Additive

Carmoisine

Carmoisine is another synthetic food dye in the red to maroon colour range. It is in the azo dye group. Other names for Carmoisine include Azorubine, Food Red 3, Azorubin S, Brillantcarmoisin O, Acid Red 14, or C.I. 14720

Carmoisine Food Additive

Carmoisine is a Synthetic Food Colour

Description:

As mentioned, Carmoisine is an azo dye. Other azo dyes include Allure Red, Sunset Yellow FCF, and Tartrazine. 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. 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.1 The reason they are so popular is that azo dyes are cheap to produce and are more stable than most natural food dyes.

Carmoisine is often used when the food is heat-treated.

Common Uses:

While still in use in Europe, it is not on the lists of approved food colours in the U.S.2. It is also not approved in Canada.3

Common uses include:

  • Baked Products
  • Condiments
  • Candy and Cough Drops
  • Drinks
  • Ice Cream
  • Jelly Crystals

This list shows Australian products that contained artificial colours (including Carmoisine) as of 2008.

Health Issues / Side Effects:

Like other artifical food colours, Quinoline yellow may result in increased hyperactivity in children. It may also cause allergy symptoms in people who are allergic to aspirin. However, at least one report indicates that there is no conclusive evidence for either of these claims4.

Notes:

Researching this post was a bit frustrating. So many brands refuse to list their ingredients on their web pages. As a result of that and the fact that I’m in a country (Canada) where Carmoisine is not permitted, my list of common uses does’t contain the links it normally would.

E Number:

The E Number of Carmoisine is 122.

References:

  1. Azo Dyes – www.food-info.net
  2. Summary of Colour Additives for Use in the United States
  3. Food Additives Permitted in Canada
  4. Scientific Opinion on the re-evaluation of Azorubine/Carmoisine (E 122) as a food additive
Posted in Colour, Food Additives, Ingredients

Spirulina Extract

Cartoon picture of Spirulina
Cartoon picture of Spirulina

Spirulina Bacteria can be used to make Blue Food Colouring

 

Spirulina Extract

When I was a kid, we had a joke that there was no such thing as blue food. Blueberries don’t count because they are actually purple. The truth is there aren’t that many blue food colours, and natural blue food colours are very rare. Spirulina extract is one of the few natural blue colours.

I wanted to write a post Spirulina because earlier this year, Mars Corporation made a successful petition to the U.S. F.D.A. to approve it for colouring candy and gum.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is announcing that Mars, Inc., has filed a petition proposing that the color additive regulations be amended to provide for the safe use of spirulina blue, an extract made from the biomass of Anthrospira platensis (spirulina), to color candy and chewing gum.1

Description:

Spirulina is a blue-green cyanobacteria. It occurs naturally in freshwater habitats in Africa, Asia and South America. It is also cultivated in shallow ponds all over the world, including in the U.S.

Spirulina contains chlorophyll and phycobilins. These chemicals absorb sunlight and play a role in photosynthesis. The phycobilins found in spirulina are blue. The chlorophyll is green, and together they give spirulina its characteristic blue-green color.

In general, the following steps describe the production of spirulina extract:

  1. The spirulina is grown, harvested, rinsed, washed, and spray dried;
  2. The dried spirulina biomass is soaked in water to extract the water-soluble proteins;
  3. The extract is filtered and stabilized;
  4. The output from the filtering process is the colour additive spirulina extract.

Common Uses:

The U.S. petition is for the use of spirulina in candy and chewing gum. These are the most common uses. In fact, in the U.K., spirulina has been used to replace Brilliant Blue in Smarties.3

Spirulina (but not the colour extract) is also commonly sold as a health food supplement. It usually contains high levels of protein, essential fatty acids, B vitamins, and vitamins C, D and E. It also has high levels of potassium and other minerals.

Health Issues / Side Effects:

During cultivation, contaminates called microcystins can sometimes be found. These can cause liver damage, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, weakness, thirst, rapid heartbeat, shock, and even death.

Most of the time, manufactures carefully screen for these contaminates. Don’t use any blue-green algae product that hasn’t been tested and found free of mycrocystins and other contamination.

Notes:

Currently, in Europe, spirulina is classified as a food (and food ingredient). It is not considered to be a food additive. This means that it does not have an E number.5

References:

  1. Federal Register Volume 77, Number 13 – Mars, Inc.; Filing of Color Additive Petition
  2. Federal Register – Listing of Color Additives Exempt From Certification; Spirulina Extract
  3. FoodNavigator.com – Blue Smarties are back thanks to Spirulina
  4. Holland Ingredients
  5. FoodNavigator.com – Legal Questions
Posted in Colour, Food Additives, Ingredients

Ponceau SX

picture of maraschino cherries

picture of maraschino cherries which may be coloured using ponceau sx

Maraschino Cherries may be coloured using Ponceau SX


Ponceau SX

Ponceau SX 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 Scarlet GN, FD&C Red No. 4, or C.I.14700.

Description:

As mentioned in previous posts, Ponceau dyes are azo dyes. The word “azo” is derived from the french word for nitrogen, azote. An azo dye is formed when two hydrocarbon groups are joined by two nitrogen atoms. The molecular formula for Ponceau SX is C18H14N2Na2O7S2.

Ponceau SX, like all azo dyes, is produced from petroleum products. Azo dyes account for roughly 60 to 70% of all dyes used in the food and textile industries. They are popular because they are cheap to produce and are more stable than most natural food dyes.

The E number of Ponceau SX is 125. Other dyes in the Ponceau family include:

Ponceau 2R
Ponceau 4R (E Number 124)
Ponceau S
Ponceau 6R (E Number 126)

Common Uses:

Ponceau SX is not a commonly used food dye. Although it does have an E number, it is not currently approved for use in the European Union.1 In the U.S. it has only restricted uses. The FDA webpage indicates that it is only allowed in externally applied drugs or cosmetics.2 However, some sources indicate it is still used to colour maraschino cherries because they are considered mainly decorative and not a foodstuff.3 In Canada, it is still approved for exactly this purpose (Fruit Peel; Glacé fruits; Maraschino cherries).4

References:

  1. Current EU Approved Additives and their E Numbers
  2. Summary of Colour Additives for Use in the United States
  3. Wikipedia – Ponceau SX
  4. List of Permitted Colouring Agents in Canada
Posted in Colour, Food Additives, Ingredients

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