What is Tartrazine, and where is it used?
Tartrazine, E102, also known as Yellow 5, is a synthetic yellow food colouring widely used in the food and beverage industry . It is a popular additive due to its vibrant yellow hue, which adds visual appeal to various products. Tartrazine is commonly found in a range of foods and beverages, including soft drinks, candies, cereals, desserts, and processed snacks. It is also used in certain medications and cosmetics. The primary purpose of tartrazine is to enhance the colour of these products and make them more visually appealing to consumers.
Purported Health Benefits
It is important to note that tartrazine does not provide any direct health benefits. It does not contribute any significant nutritional value or offer specific health-promoting properties. It is considered safe for consumption by regulatory authorities when used within approved limits [1-2].
Recommendations for Safe Consumption
Some individuals may be sensitive or allergic to tartrazine, and consuming it can lead to adverse reactions such as hives, asthma, or hyperactivity in certain susceptible individuals, particularly in children . If you suspect an allergy or sensitivity to tartrazine, it is advisable to read product labels carefully and avoid foods and beverages that contain this additive. It may also be worth consulting a healthcare professional or allergist.
Sensitivities and Intolerance: Tartrazine sensitivity or intolerance can manifest as digestive issues, such as bloating, abdominal pain, nausea, or diarrhoea . Individuals with pre-existing gastrointestinal conditions may be more susceptible.
Hyperactivity and ADHD: Some studies suggest a possible link between tartrazine consumption and hyperactivity or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), particularly in children [4-6]. However, more research is needed to establish a definitive connection.
Asthma and Respiratory Issues: Tartrazine has been reported to trigger asthma symptoms and worsen respiratory conditions in susceptible individuals . It may cause wheezing, shortness of breath, or respiratory discomfort, however, these conclusions are not firm.
Migraine and Headaches: Tartrazine has been associated with migraines and headaches in some people . Avoiding or reducing its consumption may help alleviate symptoms in those prone to these conditions.
Behavioural Changes: Some anecdotal reports suggest that tartrazine consumption could contribute to mood swings, irritability, or behavioural changes [6, 9]. However, scientific evidence supporting these claims is limited.
Cancer Risk: While some studies have raised concerns about the potential carcinogenic effects of tartrazine, the current evidence is inconclusive. More research is needed to determine its precise impact on cancer risk .
As always, maintaining a balanced diet rich in whole, unprocessed foods and prioritising a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains is the best approach for overall health and well-being. Relying solely on preserved or processed foods may not provide the full range of essential nutrients that our bodies need for optimal health. Enjoying a variety of fresh foods would reduce reliance on processed foods that require preservation.
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Atlı Şekeroğlu Z, Güneş B, Kontaş Yedier S, Şekeroğlu V, Aydın B. Effects of tartrazine on proliferation and genetic damage in human lymphocytes. Toxicology Mechanisms and Methods. 2017 Jun 13;27(5):370-5.
We do our best to source robust information from a number of credible sources. There is, however, a large amount of information on various aspects of nutritional elements along with claims in terms of their contribution to helping in body health which may contradict the above.