102 Tartrazine

Posted 19 Oct 2023
102 Tartrazine

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 [1]. 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 [3]. 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 [3]. 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 [7]. 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 [8]. 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 [10].

  • 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.


  1. Dey S, Nagababu BH. Applications of food color and bio-preservatives in the food and its effect on the human health. Food Chemistry Advances. 2022 Oct 1;1:100019.

  2. Elhkim MO, Héraud F, Bemrah N, Gauchard F, Lorino T, Lambré C, Frémy JM, Poul JM. New considerations regarding the risk assessment on Tartrazine: an update toxicological assessment, intolerance reactions and maximum theoretical daily intake in France. Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology. 2007 Apr 1;47(3):308-16.

  3. Dipalma JR. Tartrazine sensitivity. American family physician. 1990 Nov 1;42(5):1347-50.

  4. Arnold LE, Lofthouse N, Hurt E. Artificial food colors and attention-deficit/hyperactivity symptoms: conclusions to dye for. Neurotherapeutics. 2012 Jul;9(3):599-609.

  5. Ward NI, Soulsbury KA, Zettel VH, Colquhoun ID, Bunday S, Barnes B. The influence of the chemical additive tartrazine on the zinc status of hyperactive children—a double-blind placebo-controlled study. Journal of Nutritional Medicine. 1990 Jan 1;1(1):51-7.

  6. Weiss B. Synthetic food colors and neurobehavioral hazards: the view from environmental health research. Environmental health perspectives. 2012 Jan;120(1):1-5.

  7. Ardern K, Cochrane Airways Group. Tartrazine exclusion for allergic asthma. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 1996 Sep 1;2017(9).

  8. Papetti L, Moavero R, Ferilli MA, Sforza G, Tarantino S, Ursitti F, Ruscitto C, Vigevano F, Valeriani M. Truths and myths in pediatric migraine and nutrition. Nutrients. 2021 Aug 6;13(8):2714.

  9. Levy F, Dumbrell S, Hobbes G, Ryan M, Wilton N, Woodhill JM. HYPERKINESIS AND DIET A DOUBLE‐BLIND CROSSOVER TRIAL WITH A TARTRAZINE CHALLENGE. Medical Journal of Australia. 1978 Jan;1(2):61-4.

  10. 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.