Anaphylaxis to annatto dye: a case report

Ann Allergy. 1991 Feb;66(2):129-31.


Annatto dye is an orange-yellow food coloring extracted from the seeds of the tree Bixa orellana. It is commonly used in cheeses, snack foods, beverages, and cereals. Previously reported adverse reactions associated with annatto dye have included urticaria and angioedema. We present a patient who developed urticaria, angioedema, and severe hypotension within 20 minutes following ingestion of milk and Fiber One cereal, which contained annatto dye. Subsequent skin tests to milk, wheat, and corn were negative. The patient had a strong positive skin test to annatto dye, while controls had no response. The nondialyzable fraction of annatto dye on SDS-PAGE demonstrated two protein staining bands in the range of 50 kD. Immunoblotting demonstrated patient IgE-specific for one of these bands, while controls showed no binding. Annatto dye may contain contaminating or residual seed proteins to which our patient developed IgE hypersensitivity. Annatto dye is a potential rare cause of anaphylaxis.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Anaphylaxis / etiology*
  • Bixaceae
  • Carotenoids
  • Edible Grain
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Food Coloring Agents / adverse effects*
  • Food Hypersensitivity
  • Humans
  • Immunoblotting
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Plant Extracts / adverse effects*
  • Seeds
  • Skin Tests


  • Food Coloring Agents
  • Plant Extracts
  • Carotenoids
  • annatto