124 Ponceau 4R

Posted 19 Oct 2023
124 Ponceau 4R

What is Ponceau 4R, and where is it used?

124 Ponceau 4R, also known as Cochineal Red A, E124, is a synthetic food colourant that imparts a vibrant red colour to various food and beverage products [1]. It belongs to the class of azo dyes.

Ponceau 4R is commonly used in the food industry to provide a visually appealing red hue to a wide range of products, including candies, desserts, baked goods, beverages, sauces, and processed foods [1]. It is often used alongside or as an alternative to other red food colourants. Ponceau 4R is not to be confused with carminic acid, E120, a natural red food colourant derived from the cochineal insect (Dactylopius coccus), which is also used in similar food products as well as the skin care and cosmetic industry [2].

Purported Health Benefits

Ponceau 4R is primarily used as a food colourant for its vibrant red hue and does not possess  conclusive inherent health benefits [3].

Recommendations for Safe Consumption

Some individuals may experience allergic reactions or hypersensitivity to Ponceau 4R, especially those with known sensitivities to aspirin or asthma [4-5]. Additionally, studies have suggested a potential link between high consumption of Ponceau 4R and hyperactivity effects in children, although further research is needed for conclusive evidence [6].

To ensure safe consumption, regulatory bodies like the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have established guidelines and maximum permitted levels for Ponceau 4R in food and beverages [7-8]. Adhering to these guidelines helps ensure the appropriate use of Ponceau 4R in products like candies, baked goods, beverages, and processed foods.

Consumers should read product labels carefully and consider any personal sensitivities or allergies before consuming products containing Ponceau 4R. If allergic reactions or hypersensitivity occur, it is advisable to consult healthcare professionals for guidance.


  1. Silva MM, Reboredo FH, Lidon FC. Food colour additives: A synoptical overview on their chemical properties, applications in food products, and health side effects. Foods. 2022 Jan 28;11(3):379.

  2. Dweck AC. Natural ingredients for colouring and styling. International journal of cosmetic science. 2002 Oct;24(5):287-302.

  3. Thiam A, Brillas E, Centellas F, Cabot PL, Sirés I. Electrochemical reactivity of Ponceau 4R (food additive E124) in different electrolytes and batch cells. Electrochimica Acta. 2015 Aug 10;173:523-33.

  4. Gičević A, Hindija L, Karačić A. Toxicity of azo dyes in pharmaceutical industry. InCMBEBIH 2019: Proceedings of the International Conference on Medical and Biological Engineering, 16 ̶̶ 18 May 2019, Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina 2020 (pp. 581-587). Springer International Publishing.

  5. Gultekin F, Doguc DK. Allergic and immunologic reactions to food additives. Clinical reviews in allergy & immunology. 2013 Aug;45:6-29.

  6. Aguilar F, Charrondiere UR, Dusemund B, Galtier P, Gilbert J, Gott DM, Grilli S, Guertler R, Koenig J, Lambré C, Larsen JC. Scientific opinion on the re-evaluation of Ponceau 4R (E 124) as a food additive. EFSA JOURNAL. 2009;1328:1-39.

  7. Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. Color Additives History [Internet]. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 2019. Available from: https://www.fda.gov/industry/color-additives/color-additives-history

  8. EFSA Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources Added to Food. Scientific Opinion on the re‐evaluation of Ponceau 4R (E 124) as a food additive. EFSA Journal. 2009 Nov;7(11):1328.


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.