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CAS number1934-21-0 YesY
ChemSpider10606981 YesY
Jmol-3D imagesImage 1
Molecular formulaC16H9N4Na3O9S2
Molar mass534.36 g mol−1
NFPA 704
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C (77 °F), 100 kPa)
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"E102" redirects here. For the Sonic the Hedgehog character, see E-102 Gamma.
CAS number1934-21-0 YesY
ChemSpider10606981 YesY
Jmol-3D imagesImage 1
Molecular formulaC16H9N4Na3O9S2
Molar mass534.36 g mol−1
NFPA 704
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C (77 °F), 100 kPa)
 YesY (verify) (what is: YesY/N?)
Infobox references

Tartrazine is a synthetic lemon yellow azo dye primarily used as a food coloring.[1][2] It is also known as E number E102, C.I. 19140, FD&C Yellow 5, Acid Yellow 23, Food Yellow 4, and Trisodium 1-(4-sulfonatophenyl)-4-(4-sulfonatophenylazo)-5-pyrazolone-3-carboxylate).[3]

Tartrazine is a synthetic organic chemical.[4][5] It is water soluble[6] and has a maximum absorbance in an aqueous solution at 427±2 nm.[7]

Tartrazine is a commonly used color all over the world, mainly for yellow, but can also be used with Brilliant Blue FCF (FD&C Blue 1, E133) or Green S (E142) to produce various green shades.

Products containing tartrazine[edit]


Many foods contain tartrazine in varying proportions, depending on the manufacturer or person preparing the food, although the recent trend is to avoid it or substitute a non-synthetic dyeing substance such as annatto, malt color, or betacarotene[citation needed] (see Sensitivities and intolerance, below).

When in food, tartrazine is typically labelled as "color", "tartrazine", or "E102", depending on the jurisdiction, and the applicable labeling laws (see Regulation below).

Products containing tartrazine commonly include processed commercial foods that have an artificial yellow or green color, or that consumers expect to be brown or creamy looking. The following is a list of foods that may contain tartrazine:

Personal care and cosmetics products[edit]

A number of personal care and cosmetics products may contain tartrazine, usually labelled as CI 19140 or FD&C Yellow 5, including:


Various types of medications include tartrazine to give a yellow, orange or green hue to a liquid, capsule, pill, lotion, or gel, primarily for easy identification. Types of pharmaceutical products that may contain tartrazine include vitamins, antacids, cold medications (including cough drops and throat lozenges), lotions and prescription drugs.

Most, if not all, medication data sheets are required to contain a list of all ingredients, including tartrazine. Some include tartrazine in the allergens alert section.

The Canadian Compendium of Pharmaceuticals and Specialties (CPS), a prescribing reference book for health professionals, mentions tartrazine as a potential allergy for each drug that contains tartrazine.

Other products[edit]

Other products such as household cleaning products, paper plates, pet foods, crayons, inks for writing instruments, stamp dyes, face paints and envelope glues may also contain tartrazine.

Potential health effects on humans[edit]

Symptoms from tartrazine sensitivity can occur by either ingestion or cutaneous exposure to a substance containing tartrazine. Symptoms appear after periods of time ranging from minutes to 6 to 14 hours.[8]

Tartrazine appears to cause the most allergic and intolerance reactions of all the azo dyes, particularly among asthmatics and those with an aspirin intolerance.[9]

The mechanism of sensitivity is obscure and has been called pseudoallergic.[citation needed] The prevalence of tartrazine intolerance is estimated at roughly 360,000 Americans affected, less than 0.12% of the general population.[10] According to the FDA, tartrazine causes hives in fewer than 1 in 10,000 people, or 0.01%.[11]

It is not clear how many individuals are sensitive or intolerant to tartrazine, but the University of Guelph estimates that it is 1 to 10 out of every ten thousand people (0.01% to 0.1% of the population).[12] There is much controversy about whether tartrazine has ill effects on individuals who are not clearly intolerant.

Total avoidance is the most common way to deal with tartrazine sensitivity,[13] but progress has been made in reducing people’s tartrazine sensitivity in a study of people who are simultaneously sensitive to both aspirin and tartrazine.[14]


A study has indicated that exclusion of tartrazine among Asthma patients would benefit those with proven sensitivity to it, but no evidence that it had an effect on most people with Asthma.[15]

Hyperactivity in children[edit]

One study reported that a mixture of tartrazine, Ponceau 4R (E124), Sunset Yellow FCF (E110), carmoisine (E122), and sodium benzoate may cause hyperactivity in children,[16] but an independent review of the study concluded that the clinical significance of these observations remains unclear.[17] In addition, since mixtures and not individual additives were tested in this study, it is not possible to ascribe the observed effects to tartrazine.[17] Due to the high polarity of the tartrazine, it is unlikely to be able to cross the blood-brain barrier to produce a direct psychopharmacological effect. A 1994 study at the University of Melbourne suggested that children previously identified as hyperactive may exhibit an increase in irritability, restlessness, and sleep disturbance after ingesting tartrazine.[18]



Tartrazine is listed as a permitted food coloring in Canada.[19] The majority of pre-packaged foods are required to list all ingredients, including all food additives such as color; however section B.01.010 (3)(b) of the Regulations provide food manufacturers with the choice of declaring added color(s) by either their common name or simply as "colour".[20]

In February 2010, Health Canada consulted the public and manufacturers on their plans to change the labelling requirements. Health Canada felt that it might be prudent to require the identification of specific colors on food labels, to allow consumers to make better informed choices.[21] The results of the consultation supported increased transparency.[22] Some respondents proposed banning the use of synthetic food colors, however Health Canada found that existing scientific literature does not demonstrate that synthetic food coloring is unsafe in the general population; they are instead considering more transparent labelling to allow those with sensitivities to food color to make informed choices. The relevant proposed regulatory changes will be developed and published for consultation in Part I of the Canada Gazette,[23] the official newsletter of the Government of Canada.


The European Food Safety Authority allows for tartrazine to be used in processed cheese, canned or bottled fruit or vegetables, processed fish or fishery products, and wines and wine-based drinks.[24][25]

The use of tartrazine was banned in Norway,[26] and was also banned in Austria[26] and Germany until the ban was overturned by a European Union directive.[27][not in citation given]

United Kingdom[edit]

On September 6, 2007, the British Food Standards Agency revised advice on certain artificial food additives, including tartrazine. Professor Jim Stevenson from Southampton University, an author of the report, said: "This has been a major study investigating an important area of research. The results suggest that consumption of certain mixtures of artificial food colours and sodium benzoate preservative are associated with increases in hyperactive behaviour in children. However, parents should not think that simply taking these additives out of food will prevent hyperactive disorders. We know that many other influences are at work but this at least is one a child can avoid."

The following additives were tested in the research:

On April 10, 2008, the Food Standards Agency called for a voluntary removal of tartrazine along with five other additives, by 2009, because research it funded suggested a link with hyperactivity in children.[29] They recommended that any product containing one or more of the artificial colourings include a warning that reads "may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children".[30][31]

In addition, it recommended that there should be action to phase them out in food and drink in the European Union (EU) over a specified period.[32]

UK ministers agreed that the six colorings would be phased out by 2009.[33]

United States[edit]

The United States requires the presence of tartrazine to be declared on food and drug products (21 CFR 74.1705 (revised April 2013), 21 CFR 201.20) and also colour batches to be preapproved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).[11] As part of these regulations, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that the Precautions section of prescription drug labels include the warning statement, "This product contains FD+C Yellow No. 5 (tartrazine) which may cause allergic-type reactions (including bronchial asthma) in certain susceptible persons. Although the overall incidence of FD+C Yellow No. 5 (tartrazine) sensitivity in the general population is low, it is frequently seen in patients who also have aspirin hypersensitivity."[34]

The FDA regularly seizes products if found to be containing undeclared tartrazine, declared but not FDA-tested, or labeled something other than FD&C yellow 5 or Yellow 5. Such products seized often include noodles.[35]

Despite being a synthetic dye, tartrazine may be legally included in organic foods, because the USDA allows processed foods to be certified organic if they are 95% organic by weight.[36]

On June 30, 2010, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) called for the FDA to ban Yellow 5.[37]

Alternative coloring agents[edit]

Organic foods typically use beta carotene or curcumin (from turmeric) as an additive when a yellow color is wanted and annatto (E160b) might be used for non organic foods. Other alternatives include chlorophyll (green), beet powder (red or pink), cocoa powder (brown), paprika (brown) and saffron (orange).


Rumors began circulating about tartrazine in the 1990s regarding a link to its consumption and adverse effects on male potency, testicle and penis size, and sperm count. There are no documented cases supporting the claim tartrazine will shrink a man's penis or cause it to stop growing.[38][39]

Research in mammals[edit]

Tanaka et al. (Feb 2006) concluded that actual dietary intake of tartrazine is unlikely to produce any adverse effects in humans, based on their single study of maze exploration in mice.[40] This study looked at maze exploration and not maze solving.

But in a later article (Oct 2008), Tanaka found that tartrazine has a noticeable effect on the behavior of young mice.[41]

Tartrazine has also been found to inflame the stomach lining (increased the number of lymphocytes and eosinophils) of rats when given in the diet for a prolonged time.[42]

Tartrazine was found to adversely affect and alter biochemical markers in vital organs, e.g., liver and kidney, of rats, not only at higher doses, but also at low doses.[43]


  1. ^ Food Standards Australia New Zealand. "Food Additives- Numerical List". Retrieved 2 December 2009. 
  2. ^ "Current EU approved additives and their E Numbers", Food Standards Agency website, retrieved 15 Dec 2011
  3. ^ "Acid Yellow 23". ChemBlink, an online database of chemicals from around the world. 
  4. ^ "Food Dyes". Center for Science in the Public Interest. Retrieved 8 March 2013. 
  5. ^ "What is Food Coloring Made Of?". WiseGeek. Retrieved 8 March 2013. 
  6. ^ http://siri.org/msds/f2/ccd/ccdqw.html
  7. ^ Jain, Rajeev; Bhargava, Meenakshi; Sharma, Nidhi (2003). "Electrochemical Studies on a Pharmaceutical Azo Dye: Tartrazine". Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research 42 (2): 243. doi:10.1021/ie020228q. 
  8. ^ Alvarez Cuesta E, Alcover Sánchez R, Sainz Martín T, Anaya Turrientes M, García Rodríguez D. (Jan–Feb 1981). "[Pharmaceutical preparations which contain tartrazine].". Allergol Immunopathol (Madr) 9 (1): 45–54. 
  9. ^ "E102 Tartrazine, FD&C yellow No.5". UK Food Guide. Retrieved 2007-11-30. 
  10. ^ Elhkim MO, Héraud F, Bemrah N, et al. (April 2007). "New considerations regarding the risk assessment on Tartrazine: An update toxicological assessment, intolerance reactions and maximum theoretical daily intake in France". Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology 47 (3): 308–316. doi:10.1016/j.yrtph.2006.11.004. PMID 17218045. 
  11. ^ a b "Does FD&C Yellow No. 5 cause any allergic reactions?". United States Food and Drug Administration. Archived from the original on 2007-10-09. Retrieved 2007-10-20. 
  12. ^ https://www.uoguelph.ca/foodsafetynetwork/artificial-colours
  13. ^ Dipalma JR (November 1990). "Tartrazine sensitivity". American Family Physician 42 (5): 1347–50. PMID 2239641. 
  14. ^ Michel O, Naeije N, Bracamonte M, Duchateau J, Sergysels R (May 1984). "Decreased sensitivity to tartrazine after aspirin desensitization in an asthmatic patient intolerant to both aspirin and tartrazine". Annals of Allergy 52 (5): 368–70. PMID 6721262. 
  15. ^ USA (2014-01-24). "Tartrazine exclusion for allergic... [Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2001] - PubMed - NCBI". Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 2014-02-07. 
  16. ^ Donna McCann et al. (2007). "Food additives and hyperactive behaviour in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the community: a randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial". The Lancet 370 (9598): 1560–1567. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(07)61306-3. PMID 17825405. 
  17. ^ a b EFSA: Assessment of the results of the study by McCann et al. (2007) on the effect of some colours and sodium benzoate on children’s behaviour. The EFSA Journal (2008) 660, 1-53.
  18. ^ Rowe KS, Rowe KJ (Nov 1994). "Synthetic food coloring and behavior: a dose response effect in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, repeated-measures study". J Pediatr 125 (5 Pt 1): 691–698. 
  19. ^ Table III of section B.16.100, Food and Drug Regulations
  20. ^ section B.01.010 (3)(b)
  21. ^ "Health Canada Proposal to Improve Food Colour Labelling Requirements". Health Canada. Retrieved 15 June 2012. 
  22. ^ Health Canada reviews comments received on the proposed changes to current food colour labelling regulations for prepackaged foods
  23. ^ Canada Gazette
  24. ^ further details can be found on the EFSA food additives database page on tartrazine
  25. ^ https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/sanco_foods/main/?event=substance.view&identifier=7
  26. ^ a b "CBC News In Depth: Food Safety". CBC.ca. September 29, 2008. Retrieved 6 November 2011. 
  27. ^ EFSA Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources added to Food (ANS) (November 2009). "Scientific Opinion on the re-evaluation Tartrazine (E 102)". In European Food Safety Authority. EFSA Journal (European Food Safety Authority) 7 (11): 1331–1382. doi:10.2903/j.efsa.2009.1331. Retrieved 2011-10-09. "The Panel concludes that the present dataset does not give reason to revise the ADI of 7.5 mg/kg bw/day." 
  28. ^ "Parents warned of additives link". BBC News. 2007-09-06. Retrieved 2009-04-15. 
  29. ^ BBC Europe-wide food colour ban call April 10, 2008
  30. ^ http://food.gov.uk/policy-advice/additivesbranch/foodcolours/#.UvUbk_ukK34
  31. ^ "Europe-wide food colour ban call". BBC News. April 10, 2008. 
  32. ^ FSA Board discusses colours advice April 10, 2008
  33. ^ BBC Ministers agree food colour ban November 12, 2008
  34. ^ http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=74.1705
  35. ^ ORA (May 2, 2013). "Import Alert 45-02". fda.gov. Retrieved May 5, 2013. 
  36. ^ Weingarten, Hemi (2009-04-09). "A Dozen Things to Know About the Dubious Food Coloring Called Yellow #5 | Fooducate". Blog.fooducate.com. Retrieved 2014-02-07. 
  37. ^ "Group urges ban of 3 common dyes". CNN. 2010-06-30. Retrieved 2010-07-01. 
  38. ^ "Re: DOES YELLOW 5 LOWER SPERM COUNT". Madsci.org. Retrieved 2012-11-10. 
  39. ^ "Mountain Dew Shrinks Testicles". snopes.com. Retrieved 2012-11-10. 
  40. ^ Tanaka T (February 2006). "Reproductive and neurobehavioural toxicity study of tartrazine administered to mice in the diet". Food and Chemical Toxicology 44 (2): 179–87. doi:10.1016/j.fct.2005.06.011. PMID 16087284. 
  41. ^ Tanaka T, Takahashi O, Oishi S, Ogata A (October 2008). "Effects of tartrazine on exploratory behavior in a three-generation toxicity study in mice". Reproductive Toxicology 26 (2): 156–63. doi:10.1016/j.reprotox.2008.07.001. PMID 18687399. 
  42. ^ Moutinho IL, Bertges LC, Assis RV (February 2007). "Prolonged use of the food dye tartrazine (FD&C yellow no 5) and its effects on the gastric mucosa of Wistar rats". Brazilian Journal of Biology 67 (1): 141–5. doi:10.1590/S1519-69842007000100019. PMID 17505761. 
  43. ^ Amin KA, Abdel Hameid H 2nd, Abd Elsttar AH (Oct 2010). "Effect of food azo dyes tartrazine and carmoisine on biochemical parameters related to renal, hepatic function and oxidative stress biomarkers in young male rats". Food Chem Toxicol. 48 (10): 2994–9. doi:10.1016/j.fct.2010.07.039. PMID 20678534. 

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