Food colorings

Properties of food colorings

What are food colorings?

chocolate cake
Industrially processed cakes contain many food colorings

Food colors are additives that are used to improve the appearance of food products, through attractive colors.

Throughout history the discovery of new food colorings and scientific advances have changed the food coloring used:

The most primitive food colorings are those extracted from nature: from animals, plants and minerals. The use of these is still in force until today, as is the case of curcumin (E-100) or chlorophyll (E-140), for example.

Natural food colorings are generally considered harmless and specific limitations in their use is less than those that affect artificial synthesis dyes.

However, these coloring substances evolved into much more intense colors that contained lead, mercury, arsenic or copper. Because their toxicity was soon found, many of these dyes were banned.

What food colorings are authorized for food use?

Mainly the currently allowed food colorings are those corresponding to the group of vitamins, provitamins, natural substances.

Its safety is indisputable, so that, for example, beta-carotene and riboflavin are added to food products without the need to declare it on the label.

What foods contain food colorings?

According to the regulations, food colorings can be used mainly in:

  • Candy sugar coating (except licorice)
  • Candied cherries
  • Candied fruits (except orange and lemon peel)
  • Low calorie jams
  • Ice creams
  • Marzipan
Fish and their by-products
  • Roe
  • Canned prawns
  • Salmon substitute


Other foods
  • Refreshments
  • Artificial hot and cold drinks
  • Creams
  • Jellies
  • Pudding
  • Sauces and sweet soups (except in certain cases)
  • Cheese cut
  • Liqueurs with fruit aromas, orujo and herbal liqueur
  • Inverted sugar cream
  • Canned strawberries, raspberries or cherries

Other food colorings that are commonly used in food:

– Curcumin properties

– Tartrazine dye, E 102

– Chlorophyll additive E 140

Indigotine or indigo carmine – E 132

Silver – E 174

Lutein, xanthophyll and tagetes extract – E 161b

punto rojo More information on food additives

This article was endorsed by Elisenda Carballido - Dietitian nutritionist. Postgraduate in Phytotherapy and master in Nutrition and Metabolism.
Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

17 October, 2021

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