Artificial colours around the world

Listed below are the artificial colours permitted in a range of countries around the world.

Australia and New Zealand
United Kingdom and European Union

Keywords: artificial colours, additive list, banned, synthetic, colors, food, dyes, colorants


Australia and New Zealand

There are 14 artificial colours currently permitted in Australia, many of which are banned or restricted in other countries. 



Banned or restricted in other countries



UK, EU, previously banned in Norway


Quinoline Yellow

UK, EU, USA, Japan, Canada, previously banned in Norway


Sunset Yellow

UK, EU, previously banned in Norway


Azorubine, Carmoisine

UK, EU, USA, Canada, Japan, previously banned in Norway



USA, previously banned in Norway


Ponceau, Brilliant Scarlet

UK, EU, USA, previously banned in Norway



previously banned in Norway


Allura Red

UK, EU, previously banned in Norway



previously banned in Norway


Brilliant Blue

previously banned in Norway


Green S

USA, Japan, Canada, previously banned in Norway


Fast Green FCF

UK, EU, previously banned in Norway


Brilliant Black

USA, Canada, Japan, previously banned in Norway


Brown HT

USA, Canada, Japan, previously banned in Norway

From Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) Food Additives Numerical List - (accessed April 2009)

The Southampton Six colours

In the UK, the six artificial colours marked with an asterisk (the so called Southampton Six) are subject to a ‘voluntary phase out’ by the end of 2009. . In the EU, foods containing the Southampton Six colours will have to carry the warning: "may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children”. Originally thought to be by the end of 2009, this now appears set to happen by mid-2010. 

Some of the big manufacturers in the UK are extending the voluntary ban to all artificial colours, especially Brilliant Blue 133. In the best known example, when UK Smarties changed to all natural colours in 2006, blue Smarties were withdrawn until a suitable natural alternative could be found. Health concerns about Brilliant Blue were raised by a laboratory study showing that Brilliant Blue may interact with other additives such as MSG to interfere with the development of the nervous system.


Artificial colours permitted in the USA

  • FD&C Yellow No.5 Tartrazine [102]
  • FD&C Yellow No.6 Sunset Yellow [110]
  • FD&C Red No.3 Erythrosine [127]
  • FD&C Red No.40 Allura Red AC [129]
  • FD&C Blue No.2 Indigotine [132]
  • FD&C Blue No.1 Brilliant Blue FCF [133]
  • FD&C Green No.3 Fast Green FCF [143]
  • Orange B
  • Citrus Red No.2 [121]
  • Restricted conditions:Citrus Red No.2 can only be used on the skin of oranges and Orange B can only be used in hot dog or sausage castings or surfaces.
  • From the US Food and Drug Administration Food Color Facts leaflet (accessed September 2015)

colourFDA  3:20 video on dyes in USA

See blog on California trying to add a warning label for all articial colours in 2017


Artificial colours permitted in Japan

Japanese numbers and names:

  • 181 Food Yellow No.4 (Tartrazine) and its Aluminum Lake [102]
  • 182 Food Yellow No.5 (Sunset Yellow FCF) and its Aluminum Lake [110]
  • 174 Food Red No.2 (Amaranth) and its Aluminum Lake [123]
  • 177 Food Red No.102 (New Coccine) [Ponceau 4R] [124]
  • 175 Food Red No.3 (Erythrosine) and its Aluminum Lake [127]
  • 176 Food Red No.40 (Allura Red AC) and its Aluminum Lake [129]
  • 185 Food Blue No.2 (Indigo Carmine) and its Aluminum Lake [132]
  • 184 Food Blue No.1 (Brilliant Blue FCF) and its Aluminum Lake [133]
  • 183 Food Green No.3 (Fast Green FCF) and its Aluminum Lake [143]
  • 178 Food Red No.104 (Phloxine) [CI 45410]
  • 179 Food Red No.105 (Rose Bengale) [CI 45440]
  • 180 Food Red No.106 (Acid Red) [CI 45100]

From the Japan Food Chemical Research Foundation List of Designated Additives - (accessed April 2009)

   United Kingdom and European Union

Artificial colours permitted in the UK/EU

Note that those with an asterisk (*) are required to state on the label "May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children"

  • E102 Tartrazine
  • E104 Quinoline yellow
  • E110 Sunset Yellow FCF; Orange Yellow S
  • E122 Azorubine; Carmoisine
  • E123 Amaranth
  • E124 Ponceau 4R; Cochineal Red A
  • E127 Erythrosine
  • E129 Allura Red AC
  • E131 Patent Blue V
  • E132 lndigotine; Indigo Carmine
  • E133 Brilliant Blue FCF
  • E142 Green S
  • E151 Brilliant Black BN; Black PN
  • E153 Vegetable carbon
  • E154 Brown FK
  • E155 Brown HT

*Southampton Six colours soon to be restricted, see first table

From the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) Current EU approved additives and their E Numbers and Food Additives in the European Union (both accessed April 2009)


Artificial colours permitted in Canada

  • Tartrazine FD & C Yellow # 5 102
  • Sunset Yellow FCF FD & C Yellow # 6 110
  • *Citrus Red No. 2 Citrus Red # 2 121
  • Amaranth FD & C Red # 2 123
  • *Ponceau SX FD & C Red # 4 125 [should be 124 – SD]
  • Erythrosine FD & C Red # 3 127
  • Allura Red FD & C Red # 40 129
  • Indigotine FD & C Blue # 2 132
  • Brilliant Blue FCF FD & C Blue # 1 133
  • Fast Green FCF FD & C Green # 3 143

* Restricted Use, see USA restrictions on Citrus Red No. 2

From the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Food Colours Permitted Synthetic Colours in Canada and Corresponding United States and European Names - (accessed April 2009)


Artificial colours in Norway

In 1978 the use of synthetic colourings in food in general was banned in Norway, due to the possible effect of synthetic colourings such as azo dyes on children. In addition, synthetic colourings were not considered to be necessary in foods.

When Norway implemented the EC Directives on food additives in 2001, this was changed and today the there is no difference between the food additives legislation in Norway and the EC Member States, except for labelling requirements. According to the EC Labelling Directive, artificial colours do not have to be labelled when used in products that are not prepackaged. However, to assist consumers to make an informed choice, Norway decided that all products on the National market must label the food colours whether prepackaged or not.

From Norwegian Food Safety Authority 15/05/2006


Artificial/natural colours in the US - In the US, permitted colours are classified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as either ‘certifiable’ (for artificial colours) or ‘exempt from certification’ for natural colours (defined as ‘made from natural substances, such as vegetables, minerals, animals or man-made counterparts of the derivatives’).

Red colours used mostly in Japan - Phloxine B (color index no. 45410) is a hydroxyxanthene colour additive used for colouring foods in Japan (food red 104). Also known as FD&C red no. 28, it is used for colouring drugs and cosmetics in the USA. Rose Bengal (colour index 45440) is also known as 4,5,6,7-tetrachloro-2',4',5',7'-tetraiodofluorescein disodium salt, bengal rose B sodium salt, acid red 94, FD&C Red No. 105. Acid Red (colour index 45100) is also known as Food Red 106. - thanks to Tina

Introduction to food intolerance

The information given is not intended as medical advice. Always consult with your doctor for underlying illness. Before beginning dietary investigation, consult a dietician with an interest in food intolerance. You can see our list of experienced and supportive dietitians 

© Sue Dengate April 2017