Colours approved for use in food by the European Commission

Food additives permitted in the EU: colours

Below is a review of some of the colours present in the list of food additives approved in the European Community on the basis of the European Commission regulation No 1129/2011 published on 11 November 2011. This list is an amendment of Annex II to Regulation (EC) No. 1333/2008 of the European Parliament, and was itself modified in 2013. It is possible to consult the list in its entirety, both in PDF and HTML format and in the different European languages, by following the link in the References.

E100, E101, E102, E103, E104, E110, E120, E122, E123, E124, E127, E129, E131, E132, E133, E140, E141, E142, E150a, E150b, E150c, E150d, E151, E153, E155, E160a, E160b, E160c, E160d, E160e, E160f, E161b, E161g, E162, E163, E170, E171, E172, E173, E174, E175, E180
Yellow and orange colours
E100     Curcumin
E101     (i) Riboflavin, (ii) Riboflavin-5′-phosphate (vitamin B2)
E102     Tartrazine (= FD&C Yellow no. 5)
E104     Quinoline yellow
E110     Sunset Yellow FCF; Orange Yellow S (= FD&C Yellow no. 6)
Red colours
E120     Cochineal; Carminic acid; Carmines
E122     Azorubine; Carmoisine
E123     Amaranth
E124     Ponceau 4R; Cochineal Red A
E127     Erythrosine (= FD&C Red no. 3)
E129     Allura Red AC (= FD&C Red no. 40)
Blue colours
E131     Patent Blue V
E132     lndigotine; Indigo Carmine (= FD&C Blue no. 2)
E133     Brilliant Blue FCF (= FD&C Blue no. 1)
Green colours
E140     Chlorophylls and chlorophyllins: (i) Chlorophylls, (ii) Chlorophyllins (the natural green colour of leaves)
E141     Copper complexes of chlorophyll and chlorophyllins
E142     Green S
Brown and black colours
E150a   Plain caramel
E150b   Caustic sulphite caramel
E150c    Ammonia caramel
E150d   Sulphite ammonia caramel
E151     Brilliant Black BN; Black PN
E153     Vegetable carbon
E155     Brown HT
Derivatives of carotene
E160a   Carotenes: (i) Mixed carotenes, (ii) Beta-carotene
E160b   Annatto; Bixin; Norbixin
E160c    Paprika extract; Capsanthin; Capsorubin
E160d   Lycopene
E160e   trans-beta-apo-8′-carotenal (C30)
E160f    Ethyl ester of beta-apo-8′-carotenoic acid (C30)
Other plant colours
E161b   Lutein
E161g   Canthaxanthin
E162     Beetroot Red; Betanin
E163     Anthocyanins
Other compounds used as colours
E170     Calcium carbonate
E171     Titanium dioxide
E172     Iron oxides and hydroxides
E173     Aluminium
E174     Silver
E175     Gold
E180     Litholrubine BK
FD&C USA; abbreviation for synthetic colours permitted for use in food, drugs and cosmetics.


  1. Bender D.A. “Benders’ Dictionary of Nutrition and Food Technology” 8th ed. Woodhead Publishing. Oxford, 2006
  2. Commission Regulation (EU) No 1129/2011 of 11 November 2011 amending Annex II to Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council by establishing a Union list of food additives.

Biochemistry, metabolism, and nutrition