E127 – Erythrosine

What is E127 ?

E127 (erythrosine) is a food additive belonging to the category of synthetic iodine-based colorants. E127 is also known as Red No. 3, a synthetic dye commonly used in the food and pharmaceutical industries. It imparts its distinct pink-red hue and is widely used to color various products, from candies to medications, with the molecular formula C20H6I4Na2O5.

Introduced in the early 1900s, erythrosine was initially used for its stability, intensity, and cost-effectiveness compared to natural colorants.

Read also – Magnesium Phosphates E343


What is the recommended daily dose ?

The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) has established a maximum daily dose of 0-0.1 mg/kg body weight/day. The maximum inclusion dose has been set at 200 mg/kg.

It is not permitted in foods intended for infants and young.

The safety of erythrosine has been widely debated, with various studies indicating different aspects of its safety profile. It is considered safe if daily intake is limited. Careful reading of food labels is recommended.

In which products is the food additive E127 found ?

Its primary use is as a food colorant, providing a vibrant pink shade to various products. It is commonly found in:

  • Lollipops, cake decorating pastes, cream-filled biscuits, candies
  • Candied fruits
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Pastry products
  • Ice cream
  • Sports drinks, cocktails

Beyond food, E127 (erythrosine) is also used in non-food products such as certain cosmetics (lipsticks, blushes), dental care products (toothpaste, mouthwash), and medications (pills, syrups).

Additionally, it has applications in microscopy as a biological stain and in the printing industry for printer inks and paper dyes.

Contraindications and risks

Adverse effects observed from studies range from triggering bronchial asthma and hyperactivity to possible carcinogenic and mutagenic effects depending on consumption and age. E127 can increase photosensitivity and disrupt thyroid hormone mechanisms.

These potential risks have led the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to examine and limit erythrosine and similar food dyes with possible toxicity. Certain countries have chosen to restrict the use of these food coloring additives.

Read also – E 120 – carminic acid, carmine

Limiting the amount of the E127 additive in food

Several alternatives are available that can provide natural red coloring options, such as beetroot extract (E162), berry anthocyanins (E163) and carmine (E120 derived from cochineal insects). You can replace these favorite products with similar ones that have a cleaner label or use natural additives.

By installing the european InfoCons App and scanning food product barcodes, the number and type of food additives can be found in the app.
In conclusion, although E127 is still used in some countries and regions, consumers should be aware of its potential risks and consider natural food coloring options when possible.

Author – Cosmina Nițu

Master in Nutrition – Infant and new born nutrition





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