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 coal tar, a manufacturing by-product. Physically, tartrazine is a water-soluble, yellow powder with a golden hue. Under sunlight, E 102 can degrade into simpler compounds. Tartrazine is widely used due to its low cost, being one of the cheapest synthetic dyes.

E102 is used in the food industry to give products a yellow color. It is often mixed with other dyes to provide different colors and shades to products.

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What is the Recommended Daily Intake of E102 ?

The recommended daily intake of tartrazine is 7.5 mg/kg of body weight. It is considered safe if daily intake is limited.

It is advisable to read food labels carefully.

  • In most European countries, the use of E102 in food products is strictly regulated, typically amounting to 100-150 mg of dye per kilogram of the finished product.
  • It is restricted in Norway and Austria due to allergies, asthma, skin rashes, hyperactivity, and migraines.

In Which Foods is the E102 Food Additive Found ?

E102 (tartrazine) is found in confectionery and bakery products, in yellow-colored drinks of all shades: ice cream, candies, cakes, carbonated drinks. It is also often found in preserved fruits and vegetables, mustard, soups, and yogurts.

Additionally, it is found in:

  • Cosmetics (liquid and solid soaps, hand sanitizer, moisturizers, and lotions)
  • Pharmaceutical products (syrups, capsules, lotions, and gels)
  • Ink, crayons, stamp dyes, and glue.

Contraindications and Risks

It is not used in foods intended for infants and young children. When E102 is combined with benzoic acid (E210) in any food product, it can lead to hyperactivity syndrome (ADHD) in children.

Some studies suggest that 50 milligrams (mg) of tartrazine per day are sufficient to cause behavioral changes in children. This might seem like a significant amount of food dye to consume in one day. However, with all the processed foods some children consume daily, it is not so hard to reach this amount.

Individuals with high sensitivity react to this additive in different ways. The major symptoms of tartrazine intolerance include:

  • Migraines, blurred vision, skin rashes, hives, and nasal congestion.
  • Rarely, tartrazine causes asthma in sensitive individuals.
  • According to studies, adverse reactions to tartrazine can also affect the gastrointestinal tract, central nervous system, and respiratory tract, although many of these effects are rare and unconfirmed.
  • Some studies even claim that tartrazine causes thyroid tumors and lymphomas, but the evidence is not sufficiently convincing.

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Limiting the Amount of E102 in the Diet

By reading nutritional labels and observing the contents of the daily shopping basket, foods containing this food additive can be limited. Preferred products can be replaced with similar ones that have cleaner labels or use natural additives. For instance, tartrazine can be replaced with curcumin (E100).

By installing the InfoCons Application , a consumer protection app, 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

Sources :

https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov – PubChem National Institues of Health

https://www.sciencedirect.com – Science Direct

https://proe.info/additives/e102 –  Products and E-additives

https://www.news-medical.net/health – News Medical


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