Ponceau 6R

Ponceau 6R

Ponceau 6R 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 crystal scarlet, acid red 44, or C.I. 16250.


Ponceau dyes are azo dyes meaning they are formed when two hydrocarbon groups are joined by two nitrogen atoms. The molecular formula for Ponceau 6R is C20H12N2Na2O7S2.

Ponceau 6R, like all azo dyes, is produced from petroleum products.

The E number of Ponceau 6R is 126. Other dyes in the Ponceau family include:

Ponceau 2R
Ponceau 4R (E Number 124)
Ponceau S
Ponceau SX (E Number 125)

Common Uses:

It is not widely used, but can be found in cake mixes, fruit-flavoured fillings, and jelly crystals. It is approved for use in both the US and the EU.1

Besides its use as a food dye, ponceau 6R is commonly used when studying cells. It is used as a stain so that certain structures can more easily been seen under a microscope. It is closely related to amaranth, another red azo dye used for staining.

Health Issues / Side Effects:

Some studies on the safety of this colour were performed in 1974.2 These studies did not include detailed observations. They did not report any adverse effects except for the possibility of sensitivity reactions in people allergic to benzoates and aspirin.


  1. Analytical Standards for Food Color Additives (Sigma-Aldrich)
  2. International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS)
Posted in Colour, Food Additives, Ingredients, Uncategorized

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