Jr. Research Officer
Regional Analytical Laboratory
Calicut - 9
Synthetic colours are
added to food materials
to catch the attraction of
Colour is one of the
major indicator for the
acceptance of food.
Synthetic food Colour corrects the natural variations.
The problems of colour loss due to exposure to light,
air, temperature extremes, moisture and storage
condition are solved.
Make food more attractive and informative
Generally synthetic colours gives Bright and uniform
Companies are prefer to use synthetic food colours
because of they are cheaper, stable and long shelf life
compare to natural colours
Children are highly influenced by this coloured
PERMITTED FOOD COLOURS NON-PERMITTED FOOD COLOURS
No. COLOUR COMMON NAME COLOUR INDEX CHEMICAL CLASS
Ponceau 4R 16255 Azo
Carmoisine 17420 Azo
Erythrosine 45430 Xanthene
Tartrazine 19140 Pyrazolone
Sunset Yellow FCF 15985 Azo
Indigo Carmine 73015 Indigoid
Brilliant Blue FCF 42090 Triarylmethane
Fast Green FCF 42053 Triarylmethane
The objectives of the study is to identify the
colours used in sugar based confectionary.
Estimate the colour concentrations quantitatively.
Create awareness in public for the safe use of
colours in food.
Vulnerability in children
Most Important & well studied side effect of artificial colours
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Lack of concentration, distractibility, excitability
impulsiveness, anxiety, anti-social behavior,
difficulties with coordination, disabilities of both
cognitive and learning functions.
J. Human Nutr,34:167-174,1980
Report on Colour Additives. FACT, 1987
J. Pediatrics. 61(6):811-7. 1978.
Do artificial food colors promote hyperactivity in
children with hyperactive syndromes? A meta-
Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics. 2004
The effects of artificial food colourings and benzoate
preservative challenge on hyperactivity in a general
population sample of preschool children.
Arch Dis Child. 2004
Food additives and hyperactive behaviour in 3-year-old
and 8/9-year-old children in the community.
Lancet Vol. 370,No. 9598,p1521-1588, 2007
A study was conducted by National Institute of
Nutrition with school children consuming a particular
brand of Aniseed (Saunf)exhibited of glossitis of
tongue. Analysis revealed that the Aniseed (Saunf)
had very high levels of Ponceau 4R
Ref: National institute of Nutrition, Annual report, Hydrabad P.72-1993-1994
They are more sensitive to carcinogens
Immaturity of enzymatic detoxifying mechanism
Incomplete excretory organs
Partial development of physiological barriers (BBB)
They are consume more synthetic food colours per unit
of body weight than adults
Young children serve as first victims of any contaminations in food
MATERIALS AND METHOD
Fourteen different coloured sugar
based confectioneries such as sweets,
sugar candies, toffees, marsh mallows
are randomly collected from different
shops during January 2015 to March
The colours are qualitatively
identified by paper chromatographic
The colours are quantitatively
estimated by the UV-Visible
Sl No Name of Colour Absorption maxima(nm)
1 Carmosine 516
2 Ponceau 4 R 507
3 Erythrosine 527
4 Green FCF 624
5 Indigo Carmine 609
6 Brilliant Blue FCF 630
7 Tartrazine 427
8 Sunset yellow FCF 482
Sunset yellow - 15985
Indigo carmine -73015
Fast green FCF - 42053
CUMIN SEED SWEET
In cumine sweets no natural colours were found.
Four type of synthetic food colours were found in the
samples. They are individual colours and mixed
All the synthetic colours having concentration more
Sunset yellow have more than 200ppm and Fast green
have least concentration and all other colour
The Colour Concentrations are above the FSSA
Only two colours were found in lemon sweets.
The colours are identified as Tartrazine and Sunset
yellow. Sunset yellow is present in more than 180ppm
and tartrazine having the concentration 160ppm.
No mixed colours and natural colours were identified
in these samples.
In all jelly sweets individual colour and mixed colours
were found in samples.
No natural colour or non permitted colours were found
in the samples.
Ponceau 4R Present in higher concentration (210ppm)
than other permitted synthetic food colours after that
Sunset yellow is present in high level and brilliant blue
is in lesser amount
All the colours exceeds the prescribed standard level.
The local Lolly pope sample collected having red in
colour. Only single colour identified as sunset yellow.
The Colour present in higher concentration 230ppm.
Fast Green- 42053
Fast green- 42053
Brilliant blue FCF
Most of the sugar based confectionary products sold in
the market were coloured and very few find without
synthetic food colours.
Of the fourteen samples analysed
97% having permitted colours,
3% having a combination of permitted and non-
No sweets having only non-permitted colour.
All the labelled samples are within the FSSA
The Home made sweets and small scale food
industries using synthetic food colours higher than the
specifications prescribed under the FSS Act.
It was interesting to note that FSSA permits eight
colours to be added to specific foods but only six
colours were commonly used.
Among the permitted colours, tartrazine was the most widely
used colour followed by sunset yellow.
Tartrazine in blend with sunset yellow is the most widely used
Brilliant blue FCF was mostly used in blends with tartrazine to
give a green shade to sugar based confectionary products.
NON- PERMITTED COLOURS
It is found that Amaranth, Rhodamine B are
commonly used non-permitted colours.
Orange G, Fast red, and Metanil yellow, Acid Magenta
were not found in any sugar based confectionary
From the present investigation, It can be concluded
that the prevalent use of non-permitted colours has
been considerably reduced.
The study found that the use of non-permitted colours
in sugar based confectionary products was considerably
less as it was detected in only 3 %
This could be due to the awareness of the
manufacturers to the hazards of non-permitted colours
and the actions taken by the regulatory authorities.
More awareness is necessary in the non-industrial
Relentless campaign needs to be undertaken to
improve the awareness amongst consumers of the
unscrupulous use of synthetic food colours particularly
concerning vulnerable consumers such as children.
To the Commissioner
of food safety-
The Deputy Director
The Chief Government Analyst
Government Analyst Lab-TVM
The Government Analyst
Regional analytical lab
Unity Womens College,
NO FOOD ITEMS
1 Ice-cream, milk lollies, frozen dessert, flavoured milk, yoghurt, ice-cream mix powder
Non-alcoholic carbonated and non-carbonated ready-to-serve synthetic beverages
including syrups, sherbets, fruit bar, fruit beverages, fruit drinks, synthetic soft drink
Biscuits, including biscuit wafer, pastries, cakes, confectionery, thread candies, sweets,
savouries (dal moth, mongio, phulgulab, sago papad, dal biji)
Peas, strawberries and cherries in hermatically sealed containers, reserved or processed
papaya, canned tomato juice, fruit syrup, fruit squash, fruit cordial, jellies, jam,
marmalade, candied crystallised or glazed fruits
PIGMENT SOURCES COLOUR SHADE
Curcumin Turmeric Rhizome (roots) Bright lemon yellow
Lutein Tagetas Erecta (marigold) and Alfalfa Golden yellow
Palm oil, D.salina (algae Golden yellow to orange
Bixin/norbixin Bixa Orellana bush seeds- South America Orange
Paprika Capsicum annum L. Reddy orange
Lycopene Tomatoes Orangy red.
Carminic acid Cochineal insect (female)- Peru Orange to red
Carmine Cochineal insect(female) – Peru Pink to red
Betanin Red table beetroot Pink to red
Black grapeskin, elderberries, black carrots, red
Chlorophyll (in) Grass, lucerne and nettle Olive green
Copperchlorophyll(in) Grass, lucerneand nettle Bluish green
Carbon black Vegetable Material Grey to black
Crocin Saffron/ Gardenia fruit Yellow
Titanium dioxide Anatase White