Health safety issues of synthetic food colorants

Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2015 Dec;73(3):914-22. doi: 10.1016/j.yrtph.2015.09.026. Epub 2015 Sep 25.


Increasing attention has been recently paid to the toxicity of additives used in food. The European Parliament and the Council published the REGULATION (EC) No. 1333/2008 on food additives establishing that the toxicity of food additives evaluated before 20th January 2009 must be re-evaluated by European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). The aim of this review is to survey current knowledge specifically on the toxicity issues of synthetic food colorants using official reports published by the EFSA and other available studies published since the respective report. Synthetic colorants described are Tartrazine, Quinoline Yellow, Sunset Yellow, Azorubine, Ponceau 4R, Erythrosine, Allura Red, Patent Blue, Indigo Carmine, Brilliant Blue FCF, Green S, Brilliant Black and Brown HT. Moreover, a summary of evidence on possible detrimental effects of colorant mixes on children's behaviour is provided and future research directions are outlined.

Keywords: Children's behaviour; Colorant; Food dye; Safety; Toxicity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Child
  • Child Behavior / drug effects*
  • Child Development / drug effects*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Consumer Product Safety*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Food Coloring Agents / adverse effects*
  • Food Coloring Agents / chemical synthesis*
  • Food Coloring Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Humans
  • No-Observed-Adverse-Effect Level
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Toxicity Tests


  • Food Coloring Agents