E160B – Annatto

What is the food additive E160B?

Annatto, a food additive identified by the European number E160B, is a natural colorant derived from the seeds of the annatto plant and has the molecular formula C24H28O4. Annatto is a red-orange spice and food colorant obtained from the seeds of the achiote tree (Bixa orellana), native to tropical regions of the Americas. It is often used to impart a yellow to red-orange color to foods, and sometimes for its flavor.

Annatto has been used for centuries in various cultures for its vibrant red-orange hue, which can enhance the visual appeal of a wide range of food products. Annatto refers to the crude extract, while bixin is the fat-soluble colorant and norbixin is the water-soluble colorant, making it versatile for use in different areas of the food industry.


Read also – How to Choose Fruits and Vegetables at the Store


What is the recommended daily intake ?

E160B is generally recognized as a safe additive by regulatory bodies such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

Extensive studies have shown that E160B, annatto, has a low toxicity profile and poses no significant health risks when consumed in typical food quantities.

EFSA has re-evaluated the safety of annatto extracts based on bixin and norbixin when used as a food additive and has established an acceptable daily intake of 6 mg bixin/kg body weight per day and an acceptable daily intake of 0.3 mg norbixin/kg body weight per day. However, like all food additives,

E160B must be used within specified limits for consumer safety. Regulatory agencies set maximum allowable concentrations in various food products to avoid excessive consumption.

Read also – E155 – Brown HT

In which foods is the food additive E160B found ?

Annatto, E160B, is widely used in the food industry due to its ability to provide a stable and vibrant orange color. It is used in:

  • Matured and processed cheeses, butter, and margarine to give them a rich and appealing hue.
  • Various beverages, including soft drinks and fruit juices, to enhance their appearance.
  • Cakes, decorations, and pastries to improve their color.
  • Snacks such as chips and biscuits to provide a uniform and attractive color.

Read also – E141 food additive – copper complexes of chlorophylls


Contraindications and risks

In general, E160B is considered safe for consumption by regulatory bodies such as the Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). These organizations have established an acceptable daily intake for E160B, which can be consumed without appreciable health risks.

However, it may cause allergic reactions in some individuals, especially those with carotenoid allergies. Symptoms can include skin rashes, itching, and respiratory issues. It can also exacerbate asthma in sensitive individuals.

Limiting the amount of E160B in the diet

By reading nutritional labels and observing the contents of daily grocery items, one can limit foods containing this food additive. Look for products with cleaner labels or those using natural additives.

By installing the InfoCons application and scanning the barcodes of food products, you 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://www.sciencedirect.com – Science Direct

www.efsa.europa.eu- European Food Safety Authority

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…