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What are the Coloring Substances and How are They Indicated on the Labels?

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  • What are the Coloring Substances and How are They Indicated on the Labels?

Chemical substances that give color to foods, drugs and cosmetic products are called coloring substances or colorants. Basically, color additive amendments are achieved in two different ways. These are artificial colorants and natural colorants derived from natural sources.

Today, artificial colorants are produced mainly from petroleum. Artificial colorants of different colors are obtained by chemically processing petroleum. Since artificial dye is intense, hundreds of products can be dyed artificially in the desired color with one drop of dye. Food coloring in every color perceptible to the human eye has been produced in a laboratory environment. Thus, our foods have many different colors and are more attractive. However, they are completely artificially coloured.

Natural colorants are natural color additives obtained from natural sources found in nature, such as fruits and vegetables. Each color has a pigment name and these pigments are purified from the plant and obtained only as dyestuff. We read on the labels names such as anthocyanin, beta carotene, turmeric, betanin. As technology advances, these pigments are obtained in a way that causes minimal harm to the environment and is subject to minimal chemical processing. However, very bright or wide-range colors cannot be obtained unlike synthetic color additives.

Artificial coloring substances have more adverse effects on the human body than natural colorants. That's why conscious consumers generally prefer natural coloring foods, drugs and chemicals.

We can see whether a product has artificial colorants in the ingredients section of the product packages. However, for this we must know the codes of these chemical products and the meaning of the codes. The codes, names and descriptions of colorants used in foods, cosmetics and drugs are in the table below.






Curcumin is obtained from the roots of the curcumin (turmeric) plant and can also be produced artificially. It is added to cheese, margarine and bakery desserts.


Riboflavin, Riboflavin-5'- phosphate

It is a 'vitamin B2' and colorant, found naturally in vegetables. It is obtained from eggs, milk and liver. It is added to margarine and cheese.



It is a colorant that can cause disorders such as thyroid tumor, chromosome damage, hives, hyperactivity and aspirin sensitivity. It is found in colorful drinks, desserts, jams, baked goods, snacks, canned fish and instant soups.


Quinoline Yellow

Colorants used in lipstick, hair care products, cologne production and pharmaceuticals. It causes skin irritation.


Yellow 7G

The colorant may cause allergic reactions in asthmatics. It is added to light drinks. Banned in Australia and America.


Sunset Yellow FCF, Orange,Yellow S

It is a synthetic colorant. It is used in the production of bakery products, cakes, desserts, snacks, ice cream, beverages and canned fish, instant soups and some syrups. Side effects include hives, rhinitis, nasal congestion, allergies, hyperactivity, kidney tumor, chromosome damage, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, indigestion and loss of appetite.


Carmine, Carminic acid Cochineal

The colorant is obtained from insects. It is used in cosmetics, shampoos, red apple juice, candies and other foods. It may cause allergic reactions in sensitive and asmatic bodies.


Azorubine, Carmoisin

The colorant is a coal tar derivative. It may cause bad reactions in asthmatics and those allergic to aspirin. It is found in cakes and jellies.



The colorant is produced from a herb of the same name. It is used in cakes, fruit dessert fillings and jellies. It causes asthma, eczema and hyperactivity. Birth defects and fetal deaths have been observed in some animal tests, and it may be carcinogenic.


Ponso 4R,Cochineal red A

It is synthetic coal tar. It is carcinogenic in animals and may cause bad reactions in asthmatics and those allergic to aspirin.



It is added to canned vegetables, puddings, desserts, cakes, biscuits and cookies. It may cause sensitivity to light and increase thyroid hormone levels, causing hyperthyroidism. In a study conducted on mice, it was found to cause thyroid cancer.


Red 2G

The colorant is a type of synthetic coal tar. There is a possibility of mixing with blood hemoglobin. It is not recommended for use by children. It is one of the ingredients of ice cream, pudding, fruit or flavored yoghurt, cooked or uncooked meat products, sausage, salami, sausage, marmalade and beverages.


Allura red AC

The colorant is synthetic. It is found in desserts, beverages and garnishes, pharmaceutical and cosmetic products. It is risky for people with asthma and aspirin sensitivity. It has been found to cause cancer in mice.


Patent blue V

People with allergic sensitivities should avoid this coloring substance. It can cause hives, itching, low blood pressure, tremors and breathing problems. It is not recommended for use in children.


Indigotin, Indigocarmine

The colorant is a synthetic coal tar derivative. It is commonly added to tablet medications. It is also found in ice cream, desserts, baked goods, confectionery and biscuits. It causes nausea, vomiting, high blood pressure, skin rash, breathing problems and other allergic reactions.


Brilliant blue FCF

The colorant is a synthetic coal tar derivative. It is added to dairy products, desserts and beverages.



It is naturally found in all plants. It is used in dyeing candles and oils, and in pharmaceutical and cosmetic products.


Chlorophyll copper complex

It is added to some types of cheese, chewing gum, ice cream, sauces and soups. It has no proven side effects.


Green S

It is used in canned peas, mint jelly and sauces, packaged bread crumbs, and cake mixes. It is known to cause hyperactivity, asthma and insomnia.



The coloring agent is made from sugar. It is used in oysters, soy, fruits, canned sauces, chocolate, confectionery, biscuits and pickles. It is not recommended for children.


Brilliant Black BN, Black PN

It is used in desserts, fish paste, flavored milk drinks, ice cream, mustard, marmalades, sauces, cakes and beverages.


Vegetable Carbon

It has prohibited in the USA.


Brown FK

Brown FK consists of a mixture of 6 synthetic dyes. It is used in dried fish, smoked fish, cooked ham and chips. Not recommended for children.


Brown HT (Chocolate)

It is added to chocolate cake. It has adverse effects in asthmatics and those allergic to aspirin.


Carotene, alpha-, beta-, gamma-

The human body converts it into Vitamin 'A' in the liver. It is found in carrots, citrus fruits and vegetables. It is added to butter, margarine, cake, milk drinks and fruit juices.


Annatto (Arnatto, Annato), bixin, norbixin

It is obtained from the 'Bixaorellana' tree. It is added to cheese, butter, margarine, bakery products, snacks, soups and drinks. It is known to cause hives.


Paprika extract, Capsanthin, Capsorubin

This coloring substance is obtained from the seeds of red pepper. It is added to poultry foods and sliced cheeses.



The colorant is produced from tomatoes and pink grapefruit. It may reduce the risk of cancer.



(C 30)

It is an artificial colorant. It is used in the production of sliced cheese. It has no proven side effects.


Ethyl ester of beta-apo-8'-carotenic acid (C 30)

It has no side effects.


Lutein, Canthaxanthin

It is a colorant naturally found in green leaves, marigolds and egg yolks.



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The colorant comes from flowers and plants.


Calcium Carbonate

It is both a colorant and a mineral salt. It is obtained from rock mineral or bone. It is used in toothpaste, white paint, cleaning powders, biscuits, bread, cakes, ice cream, frozen canned vegetables and fruits, and medicines. It is toxic in high doses. It may cause gallstones, kidney stones, hemorrhoids, constipation and fistula bleeding.


Titanium dioxid

It is found in toothpaste and white paint, many medicines, some types of cheese, creams and sauces. It may cause high concentrations in the blood, brain, lymph nodes and lungs.


Iron oxide and hydroxide

It is added to salmon and shrimp paste, cakes, pastries and desserts. It is toxic in high doses.



It is used for decoration purposes in dragees, candies, cakes and tablets.



It is added to chocolate candies. It causes significant discomfort in excessive doses.



It is added to chocolate candies.


Litolrubin BK

It can cause asthma, rhinitis and skin diseases. It is banned in some countries.


Tannic acid

It is used for clarity in alcohol. It is obtained from hazelnut and oak trees. It is naturally found in tea.

  • "Red" E numbers indicate additives that are harmful to health..

    ** marks indicate contributions of definitive animal (mostly porcine) origin. 

    "*" It may be of plant or animal origin. It may (not) be treated with alcohol.

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