What are the Chlorophylls, and where are they used? Chlorophyll, a natural green pigment found in plants, is a versatile food preservative and colourant used in the food industry [1-2]. It belongs to the class of food additives known as chlorophylls (E140-141), which includes Chlorophyll-copper complex, Chlorophyllin copper complex sodium salt, and Chlorophyllin copper complex potassium salt. Chlorophyll is responsible for the green colour in plants and plays a crucial role in photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert sunlight into energy.
In the food industry, Chlorophyll and its derivatives are utilised for their natural green hue and preservation properties [1-2]. Chlorophyll-copper complex, also known as Copper chlorophyll (E141), is a copper salt of Chlorophyll and is commonly used as a food colourant. It imparts a vibrant green colour to various food products, including beverages, confectioneries, and desserts, enhancing their visual appeal.
Chlorophyllin copper complex sodium salt (E141i) and Chlorophyllin copper complex potassium salt (E141ii) are derived from Chlorophyll and are used as both colourants and preservatives. They are water-soluble derivatives that offer improved stability and functionality compared to Chlorophyll itself . These derivatives are often used in processed foods, such as canned vegetables, soups, and sauces, to extend their shelf life while maintaining a green appearance.
Purported Health Implications
Antioxidant Properties: Chlorophyll is known for its antioxidant properties, which help protect cells from oxidative damage caused by free radicals . It may contribute to overall health and well-being by reducing inflammation and supporting the body's natural defence mechanisms.
Detoxification and cleansing: E140-141 chlorophylls are believed to possess detoxifying properties, binding to toxins and facilitating their removal from the body . By assisting in the elimination of harmful substances, these compounds may support the body's natural detoxification processes and contribute to improved overall health.
Digestive health support: Traditional medicinal uses of E140-141 chlorophylls suggest that they can aid in promoting digestive health [4-5]. These compounds may help maintain a healthy gut environment by supporting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. A balanced gut microbiome is crucial for proper digestion, nutrient absorption, and overall digestive well-being.
Recommendations for Safe Consumption
Dietary exposure to Chlorophyll and its derivatives is considered safe within approved limits. Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and other regulatory agencies have evaluated the safety of Chlorophyll and its derivatives as food additives [6-10]. They have established specific guidelines and maximum permitted levels to ensure safe consumption.
Regulatory Approval: Chlorophyll and its derivatives have undergone rigorous safety assessments by regulatory authorities. They are approved for use as food additives, both as colourants and preservatives, within specified limits. Suggestions of adverse effects from excessive consumption such as gastrointestinal problems have been reported, but evidence is lacking 
It is important to note that Chlorophyll and its derivatives are derived from natural sources and are generally regarded as safe [1-3, 6-10]. However, individuals with known allergies or sensitivities should exercise caution and carefully read product labels [7, 11].
Moderation and Variety: As with any food additive, moderation is key. A varied and balanced diet that includes a wide range of natural, unprocessed foods is recommended for overall health and well-being.
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Solymosi K, Mysliwa-Kurdziel B. Chlorophylls and their derivatives used in food industry and medicine. Mini reviews in medicinal chemistry. 2017 Sep 1;17(13):1194-222.
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EFSA Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources added to Food (ANS). Scientific Opinion on re‐evaluation of copper complexes of chlorophylls (E 141 (i)) and chlorophyllins (E 141 (ii)) as food additives. EFSA Journal. 2015 Jun;13(6):4151.
CFR - Code of Federal Regulations Title 21 [Internet]. www.accessdata.fda.gov. Available from: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=73.125&SearchTerm=chlorophyll
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Gómez-Sierra T, Hernández-Cruz EY, Ortega-Lozano AJ, Jiménez-Uribe AP, Chaverri JP, Medina-Reyes EI. Toxicological Aspects of Natural Food Additives. InNatural Additives in Foods 2022 Dec 17 (pp. 303-323). Cham: Springer International Publishing.
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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.