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.

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
E161c Beta-cryptoxanthin
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