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Azorubine sources, health risks

Friday, October 13, 2017 by

Azorubine, with an E number of E122, is a synthetic food dye that belongs to the azo dye group. Made from coal tar, azorubine is a powder that has a color ranging from red to maroon. It is used as a food dye in foods that need to be heat-treated after fermentation, such as baked products, condiments, candy, cough drops, drinks, ice cream, and jelly crystals. It can be found in foods such as blancmange, marzipan, Swiss roll, jams and preserves, sweets, brown sauce, flavored yogurts, packet soups, jellies, breadcrumbs, and cheesecake mixes.

This artificial food dye is also known as carmoisine, food red 3, azorubin S, brillantcarmoisin O, acid red 14, or C.I. 14720.

Although azorubine is commonly used in the U.K., it is prohibited in countries such as Japan, Norway, Sweden, and the U.S.

Harmful effects that can be caused by azorubine

There are several harmful effects that azorubine can cause. One of these is it can cause allergic reactions, rashes such as hives, and skin swelling. People with asthma also react negatively to it.

Azorubine was also found to trigger a child’s nervous system, which can lead to hyperactivity and bad concentration. These two adverse effects were reported by the Hyperactive Children’s Support Group. In addition, azorubine was included in a call to ban food colors in Europe, as reported by BBC. The study in 2007 found that the six artificial food colors, such as azorubine, sunset yellow (E110), tartrazine (E122), ponceau 4R (E124), quinoline yellow (E104), allura red AC (E129) were associated with hyperactivity in children. The European Union took action on this in Dec. 2008 and required warning labels on foods that contain any of the six artificial food colorings. The warning label written on the food states “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.” It only took effect on July 20, 2010.

In a study of lab rats, it was also found that azo dyes have carcinogenic properties.

Body systems harmed by azorubine

One of the body systems that can be harmed by azorubine is the integumentary system, particularly the skin, causing allergic reactions, such as skin swelling and hives. Because it can cause allergic reactions, it may lead to breathing difficulties, thus affecting the respiratory system. It may be harmful to the nervous system as it was found to stimulate hyperactivity in children.

Where to learn more


Azorubine (E122) is an artificial food coloring that is produced from coal tar. It is powder in form and comes in a red to maroon color. It is used in foods that need to be heat-treated after being fermented. Other names for this synthetic food color include carmoisine, food red 3, azorubin S, brillantcarmoisin O, acid red 14, and C.I. 14720. It can trigger hyperactivity in children. It can also cause skin swelling, breathing difficulties, and cancer.

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