E141 food additive – copper complexes of chlorophylls

What is food additive E141?

Food additive E141, also known as copper complexes and chlorophylls, is a natural food additive primarily used for its coloring properties. As a food colorant, it provides a green hue and is valued for its stability and vibrant shade, making it a popular choice in the food industry. It has a molecular formula of C34H34CuN4O.

E141 is derived from chlorophyll, the natural green pigment found in plants. In its natural form, chlorophyll is not very stable, especially when exposed to light and heat. To overcome this instability, chlorophyll can be transformed into more stable compounds through a process involving copper.

The resulting copper complexes are classified into two main types: E141(i) – chlorophylls and E141(ii) – chlorophyllins. The main difference between the two is that chlorophylls are oil-soluble, while chlorophyllins are water-soluble, extending their applications in various food products. The color of E141 can range from blue-green to dark green, depending on the source. The product contains other pigments, such as carotenoids, as well as fats and waxes derived from the source material.

Read also – E140 – Chlorophylls

What is the Recommended Daily Dose for E141 ?

The safety of E141 has been evaluated by various health and food safety authorities. According to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), E141 is considered safe for consumption within regulated limits. These authorities have established acceptable daily intake (ADI) levels to ensure consumer safety.

The acceptable daily intake for human consumption is up to 15 mg/kg body weight.

The maximum inclusion dose is 100 mg/kg.

E141 it is safe to use in children’s food within imposed limits.

Did you know that 1 in 6 European citizens suffers from obesity ?

In which foods can the E141 food additive be found?

E 141 is predominantly used as a food colorant. However, it can be used in a wide range of products, including:

  • Sweets: provides a green hue to candies, jellies, and other sweets.
  • Beverages: soft drinks, fruit juices, and alcoholic drinks.
  • Dairy products: ice cream and yogurt.
  • Processed foods: sauces, soups, and canned vegetables.

Apart from its applications in the food industry, food additive E141 is also used in the cosmetics, pharmaceutical, and personal care product industries, leveraging its coloring properties and stability. Food manufacturers using E141 in their production process must comply with strict labeling requirements, ensuring transparency and allowing consumers to make informed choices.

Read also – E132 – INDIGOTIN (Indigo Carmine)


Contraindications and Risks

Generally considered safe, the copper in E141 is firmly bound and unlikely to be harmful. The European Commission acknowledges the safety of food additive E141 but highlights the lack of a comprehensive safety assessment. More data is needed on how the body absorbs, distributes, and eliminates E 141, as well as potential long-term effects. It is recommended to read food labels carefully.

Read also – InfoCons Guide for Participants at the 2024 European Football Championship (UEFA Euro 2024)

Limiting the Quantity of E141 in Diet

Being a natural additive, E141 is safe for consumption if daily intake is limited, and it does not require searching for alternatives for replacement or limitation. Given concerns about synthetic colorants, there is increasing interest in natural colorants. These natural options are gaining popularity, especially in organic product markets.

Seek products with a cleaner label or those using natural additives. By installing the InfoCons App and scanning the barcodes of food products, consumers can find out the number and type of food additives in the application.

Author – Cosmina Nițu

Master in Nutrition – Infant and new born nutrition


https://efsa.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/ – European Food Safety Authority

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/ – European Parliament

Other blog posts

E102 – Tartrazine
What is food additive E102 (Tartrazine) ? E102 (tartrazine) is a synthetic azo dye food additive with the molecular formula C16H9N4Na3O9S2, meaning it is not found in nature in its pure form. This food additive is derived from…