Tartrazine (otherwise known as E102 or FD&C Yellow 5) is a synthetic lemon yellow azo dye used as a food coloring. It is derived from coal tar. It is water soluble and has a max absorbance in an aqueous solution at 427±2 nm
Tartrazine is a very commonly used color in Africa and Sweden — obviously used for yellow, but can also be used with E133 Brilliant Blue FCF or E142 Green S to produce various green shades. Use of tartrazine is banned in Norway and was banned in Austria and Germany, before European Parliament and Council Directive 94/36/EC lifted the ban.
Products containing tartrazine
Soft drinks, instant puddings, flavored chips (Doritos, etc), cake mixes, custard powder, soups, sauces, kool-aid, ice cream, ice lollies, candy, chewing gum, marzipan, jam, jelly, marmalade, mustard, horseradish, yogurt, noodles, pickles and other pickled products, certain brands of fruit squash, fruit cordial, chips, tim tams, and many convenience foods together with glycerin, lemon and honey products.
Sensitivities & Intolerance
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Tartrazine appears to cause the most allergic and intolerance reactions of all the azo dyes, particularly among those with an aspirin intolerance and asthmatics. The mechanism of sensitivity is obscure and has been called pseudoallergic. The prevalence of tartrazine intolerance is estimated at roughly 360,000 Americans affected, about 0.12% of the general population. Link to FDA answer regarding tartrazine allergic reactions
Symptoms from tartrazine sensitivity can occur by either ingestion or cutaneous exposure to a substance containing tartrazine.
Reactions can include anxiety, migraines, clinical depression, blurred vision, itching, general weakness, heatwaves, feeling of suffocation, purple skin patches, and sleep disturbance. In rare cases, the symptoms of tartrazine sensitivity can be felt even at extremely small doses and can last up to 72 hours after exposure.
Some researchers have linked tartrazine to childhood Obsessive-compulsive disorder and hyperactivity.
Organic foods typically use betacarotene as an additive when yellow color is desired and more use has been made of Annatto (E160b) for non-organic foods.
Under FDA regulations, the presence of tartrazine is required to be declared on food and drug products. 21 CFR 74.1705, 21 CFR 201.20. The FDA regularly seizes products found to be containing undeclared tartrazine; these have often included Chinese "egg noodles."
Austria and Norway
Total avoidance is the most common way to deal with tartrazine sensitivity. 
Progress has been made in reducing people’s tartrazine sensitivity in a study of people who are simultaneously sensitive to both aspirin and tartrazine.
- "Myomancy" 7th September 2007
- PubMed 6721262
- snopes, yellow toxin
- Color Additives Information (Food and Drug Administration)
- FDA Docket to delist Yellow #5 (Food and Drug Administration)
- MSDS for Tartrazine (MSDS)