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Tartrazine (otherwise known as E102 or FD&C Yellow 5) is a synthetic lemon yellow azo dye used as a food coloring. It is derived from coal tar. It is water soluble[1] and has a max absorbance in an aqueous solution at 427±2[2] nm

Tartrazine is a very commonly used color in Africa and Sweden — obviously used for yellow, but can also be used with E133 Brilliant Blue FCF or E142 Green S to produce various green shades. Use of tartrazine is banned in Norway and was banned in Austria and Germany, before European Parliament and Council Directive 94/36/EC lifted the ban.


Products containing tartrazine


The foods in the following list may contain Tartrazine or not, depending on the manufacturer or the cook in charge; however, for several decades (since the 1950s) they have been known to frequently have various proportions of it, while nowadays the trend is to avoid its addition, or to substitute it for natural dying substances, like anatto, malt color, or betacarotene (see Sensitivities & Intolerance, below).

Confectionery, soft drinks, instant puddings, flavored chips (Doritos, Nachos, etc), cereals (corn flakes, muesli, etc.), cake mixes, pastries, custard powder, soups (particularly instant or "cube" soups), sauces, some rices (like paella, risotto, etc.), kool-aid, ice cream, ice lollies, candy, chewing gum, marzipan, jam, jelly, gelatins, marmalade, mustard, horseradish, yogurt, noodles, pickles and other pickled products, certain brands of fruit squash, fruit cordial, chips, tim tams, and many convenience foods together with glycerin, lemon and honey products.

Non-food products

Soaps, cosmetics, shampoos and other hair products, moisturizers, crayons and stamp dyes.


Vitamins, antacids, medicinal capsules and certain prescription drugs.


Rumors began circulating about Yellow 5 in the 1990s regarding a link to its consumption and adverse affects on male potency and penis size. These rumors most likely were spun from confirmed cases of allergic reactions and sensitivities to Tartrazine. There are no documented cases supporting the claim that Yellow 5 will shrink a man's penis or cause it to stop growing.

Sensitivities & Intolerance

Tartrazine appears to cause the most allergic and intolerance reactions of all the azo dyes, particularly among those with an aspirin intolerance and asthmatics.[3] The mechanism of sensitivity is obscure and has been called pseudoallergic. The prevalence of tartrazine intolerance is estimated at roughly 360,000 Americans affected, about 0.12% of the general population.[citation needed] According to the FDA, tartrazine causes hives in fewer than 1 in 10,000 people, or 0.01%.[4]

Symptoms from tartrazine sensitivity can occur by either ingestion or cutaneous exposure to a substance containing tartrazine.[citation needed]

Reactions can include anxiety, migraines, clinical depression, blurred vision, itching, general weakness, heatwaves, feeling of suffocation, purple skin patches, and sleep disturbance.[citation needed] In rare cases, the symptoms of tartrazine sensitivity can be felt even at extremely small doses and can last up to 72 hours after exposure.[citation needed]

Some researchers have linked tartrazine to childhood Obsessive-compulsive disorder and hyperactivity.[5]

A study commissioned by the UK's Food Standards Agency found that when used in a mixture of other preservatives, increased levels of hyperactivity in children were observed.[6]

Organic foods typically use betacarotene as an additive when yellow color is desired and more use has been made of Annatto (E160b) for non-organic foods.


United States

Under FDA regulations, the presence of tartrazine is required to be declared on food and drug products (21 CFR 74.1705, 21 CFR 201.20).[4] The FDA regularly seizes products found to be containing undeclared tartrazine; these have often included Chinese "egg noodles."[1]


Total avoidance is the most common way to deal with tartrazine sensitivity. [7]

Progress has been made in reducing people’s tartrazine sensitivity in a study of people who are simultaneously sensitive to both aspirin and tartrazine.[8]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ E102 Tartrazine, FD&C yellow No.5. UK Food Guide. Retrieved on 2007-11-30.
  4. ^ a b Does FD&C Yellow No. 5 cause any allergic reactions?. United States Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved on 2007-10-20.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Myomancy" 7th September 2007
  7. ^
  8. ^ PubMed 6721262
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Tartrazine". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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