An oral challenge test with carmine red (E120) in skin prick test positive patients

Eur Ann Allergy Clin Immunol. 2015 Nov;47(6):206-10.


Background: Positive skin prick test reactions to carmine red (E120) occur in approximately 3% of the patients studied for food allergy. Carmine ingestion associated systemic symptoms are occasionally suspected, but sufficient information of proven carmine allergy is not available.

Patients and methods: To analyse carmine related symptoms in skin prick test positive patients a cohort of 23 patients with suspected allergy to carmine red was subjected to a single-blind placebo-controlled oral challenge test with carmine red.

Results: Five patients developed clinical symptoms during the placebo-controlled oral challenge. As a result, the overall frequency of clinical carmine allergy is estimated to be 0.7% in general dermatology patients studied for food-associated symptoms.

Conclusions: Oral challenge test provides a valuable in vivo tool to better inform patients with positive skin prick tests to additives to avoid false allergy diets.

Keywords: Carmine red (E120); IgE-mediated allergy; food additive; single-blind placebo-controlled oral challenge test; skin prick test.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carmine / administration & dosage
  • Carmine / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Food Coloring Agents / administration & dosage
  • Food Coloring Agents / adverse effects*
  • Food Hypersensitivity / diagnosis*
  • Food Hypersensitivity / epidemiology
  • Food Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Humans
  • Intradermal Tests*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Young Adult


  • Food Coloring Agents
  • Carmine