What is Green S (E142), and where is it used?
Green S, also known as Brilliant green BS or E142, is a synthetic colourant widely used in the food and beverage industry to achieve a bright green colour in various products . It is a coal tar derivative and belongs to the class triphenylmethane dyes. Green S has a broad spectrum of applications in the food industry such as jams and jellies, confectionery, flavoured beverages, pastries, baked goods and canned vegetables. Its intense green hue makes it a popular choice for enhancing the appearance of products.
Purported Health Implications of Green S (E142)
While Green S is generally considered safe within established limits, there have been concerns about the potential health implications associated with its consumption.
Allergic Reactions: Some individuals may experience allergic reactions to Green S, such as hives, skin rashes, itching or digestive issues . If you suspect an allergy or experience adverse reactions, consult a healthcare professional.
Hyperactivity Concerns: The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Panel has informed that Green S may cause hyperactivity reactions in susceptible individuals [2,3]. However, this is not conclusive.
Potential Carcinogenicity: Animal studies have raised concerns about the potential carcinogenic properties of some synthetic food colourants, including E142 . Nevertheless, there is no sufficient evidence in humans and more research is needed to establish a definitive link.
Recommendations for Safe Consumption
Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI): The EU Scientific Committee on Food (SCF) has established an ADI of 5 mg/kg of body weight/day for Green S . This ADI value has also been evaluated as safe by the EFSA . It is important to adhere to recommended limits to ensure safe consumption of Green S.
Read Product Labels: Be aware and check the ingredient list on food and beverage labels for Green S (E142), especially if you have sensitivities or allergies to food additives. This allows you to monitor your intake of foods containing synthetic dyes and make informed choices.
Moderation: Consume products containing Green S in reasonable amounts, as excessive concentrations of this dye may pose health risks.
Prioritise Natural Alternatives: Consider choosing products that use natural alternatives to achieve green colouring. These alternatives may include chlorophyll or extracts derived from plants like spinach and nettle.
Consult Healthcare Professionals: As always, if you have concerns about Azorubine or other food additives and how they may affect your health, it's advisable to consult with healthcare professionals, such as allergists or dietitians. They can provide personalized advice based on your specific needs and sensitivities.
Different Legislations: The potential health implications of Green S have resulted in it being prohibited as a food additive in some countries, such as the US, Japan, China and India . Whereas, authorised for food usage in some European countries, Australia and New Zealand [6,7].
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Amchová P, Kotolová H, Rudá-Kučerová J. Health safety issues of synthetic food colorants. Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology. 2015 Dec 1;73(3):914–22.
EFSA Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources added to Food (ANS). Scientific Opinion on the re-evaluation of Green S (E 142) as a food additive. EFSA Journal. 2010;8(11):1851.
SCF (Scientific Committee for Food). Reports of the Scientific Committee for Food (14thSeries). 1984;47-6.
Viera I, Pérez‐Gálvez A, Roca M. Green Natural Colorants. Molecules. 2019 Jan 2;24(1):154–4.
Foods Standard Agency UK. Approved additives and E numbers. 2023.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ). Food additives - numerical list. 2019.
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.