Food Colors Table

Food Toxicology 2(2+0)
Lesson 23 : Food Additives, Colors, and Flavors

Food Colors Table

Some Natural Food Colors


Amaranth (Red No 2)

Although there was no positive proof of either potential danger or safety, the FDA ultimately decided to ban the color because it had not been shown to be safe. The agency based its decision in part on the presumption that the color might cause cancer. Although gone from U.S. shelves, products tinted with Red No. 2 can still be found in Canada and Europe.

Red No . 3

For now, Red No. 3 can be used in foods and oral medications. Products such as maraschino cherries, bubble gum, baked goods, and all sorts of snack foods and candy may contain Red No. 3. According to the International Association of Color Manufacturers, Red No. 3 is widely used in the industry and hard to replace. It makes a very close match for primary red, which is important in creating color blends.

Yellow No. 4 (tartrazine )

Clinical symptoms of asthma, hyperactivity, and urticaria have been attributed to tartrazine. However, considerable controversy exists in the association between such symptoms and tartrazine.

Methyl anthranilate

Methyl anthranilate is found in neroli oil and in citrus and other oils. It is a colorless to pale yellow liquid with a bluish fluorescence. It has a grape-like odor. The acute LD 50 in rodents is 3000 to 4000 mg/kg. Also, methyl anthranilate, a biochemical pesticide, is exempt from the requirement of a tolerance when used in accordance with good agricultural practices on the following raw agricultural commodities: blueberry, cherry, corn, grape, and sunflower.


Safrole is found in trace amounts in many species such as black pepper, cinnamon, and sweet basil. Safrole and related compounds are found in many edible plants, including sassafras.

Monosodium glutamate (MSG)

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is the sodium salt of glutamic acid. Glutamate occurs naturally in protein-containing foods such as cheese, milk, mushrooms, meat, fish, and many vegetables. Glutamate is also produced by the human body and is vital for growth, nerve metabolism, and brain function. When MSG is added to foods, it provides a flavoring function similar to the glutamate that occurs naturally in food and has been used effectively to bring out meaty taste in foods. Many researchers also believe that MSG imparts a fifth taste, "umami,” independent of the four basic tastes of sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. This taste in Japan is described as savory or meaty. It works well with a variety of foods such as meats, poultry, seafood, and many vegetables.

It is used to enhance the flavor of some soups, stews, meat-based sauces, and snack foods. The average adult consumes ca. 11 g of glutamate per day from natural protein sources and less than 1 g of glutamate per day from MSG. In contrast, the human body creates ca. 50 g of glutamate daily for use as a vital component of metabolism.
The U.S. FDA has found no evidence to suggest any long-term serious health consequences from consuming MSG. It is possible that some people might be sensitive to MSG, as they are to many other foods and food ingredients.

Last modified: Monday, 26 March 2012, 2:13 PM