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Chemical structure of tartrazine, C16H9N4Na3O9S2
Space-filling model of tartrazine - the sodium ions are shown in purple.
File:Bottle and glass of inca kola.jpg
Inca Kola would be colorless without tartrazine.

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[1] and has a max absorbance in an aqueous solution at 427±2[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.

Non-food products

Soaps, hair products, moisturizers, crayons and stamp dyes.


Vitamins, antacids, medicinal capsules and certain prescription drugs.

Sensitivities & Intolerance

Tartrazine appears to cause the most allergic and intolerance reactions of all the azo dyes, particularly among those with an aspirin intolerance and asthmatics.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

Reactions can include anxiety, migraines, clinical depression, blurred vision, itching, general weakness, heatwaves, feeling of suffocation, purple skin patches, and sleep disturbance.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

Some researchers have linked tartrazine to childhood Obsessive-compulsive disorder and hyperactivity.[3]

A study commissioned by the UK's Food Standards Agency found that when used in a mixture of other preservatives, increased levels of hyperactivity in children were observed.[4]

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.


United States

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."[1]

Austria and Norway

Tartrazine is banned in Norway and Austria[5].


Total avoidance is the most common way to deal with tartrazine sensitivity. [6]

Progress has been made in reducing people’s tartrazine sensitivity in a study of people who are simultaneously sensitive to both aspirin and tartrazine.[7]

Urban Legends

There is an urban legend that the tartrazine in Mountain Dew and candies such as Everlasting Gobstoppers, Skittles, and Starburst cause shrinkage of the testicles and weakening in bones.[8]


External links

cs:Tartrazin da:Tartrazin de:Tartrazin hr:Tartrazin it:Tartrazina nl:Tartrazine sv:Tartrazin