155 Brown HT

Posted 21 Oct 2023
155 Brown HT

What is Brown HT, and where is it used? Brown HT, E155, is a synthetic food colouring agent and preservative. It belongs to the azo dye family and is commonly used to impart a brown or reddish-brown colour to a wide range of food and beverage products [1]. Brown HT is a water-soluble dye with good stability and resistance to light and heat, making it suitable for various applications within the food industry. Brown HT is widely used in the food and beverage industry to enhance the visual appeal of products. It imparts an attractive brown shade to items such as desserts, confectioneries, sauces, gravies, baked goods, and beverages [1]. Additionally, it can be found in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and some non-edible products like ink and textiles.

Purported Health Implications

  • Allergenic Potential: While Brown HT is generally considered safe for the majority of the population, it may cause allergic reactions in individuals who are sensitive to azo dyes [2]. Allergic responses can range from mild symptoms like skin rashes and itching to more severe reactions, including respiratory difficulties or anaphylaxis. Individuals with known sensitivities to azo dyes should avoid products containing Brown HT.

  • Hyperactivity in Children: Some studies have explored the potential link between artificial food colourings, including Brown HT, and hyperactivity in children [3]. However, the evidence remains inconclusive, and more research is needed to establish a definitive connection.

Recommendations for Safe Consumption

The incorporation of Brown HT in food products is well-regulated, and so those without allergies, intolerances or sensitivities should not be concerned about their intake. The scientific consensus supports its safety when consumed within recommended limits.

  • Regulatory Approval: Brown HT has been approved for use as a food additive by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and Food Standards Australia New Zealand provided it remains within specific guidelines and maximum permitted levels for its use in different food categories [4-5].

  • ADI and Exposure Levels: The Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) for Brown HT is established by regulatory bodies based on toxicological studies. The ADI represents the maximum amount of a substance that can be consumed daily throughout a person's lifetime without appreciable health risks. Current ADI values for Brown HT are considered to be within safe limits [4].

  • Consume a variety of fresh and whole foods. This would mean incorporation of a range of nutrients from natural sources, that reduce reliance on processed products that may contain artificial colourants such as Brown HT. As with any food additive, moderation and adherence to regulatory guidelines are key to maintaining a balanced and healthy lifestyle.


  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. EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA). Scientific Opinion on the appropriateness of the food azo‐colours Tartrazine (E 102), Sunset Yellow FCF (E 110), Carmoisine (E 122), Amaranth (E 123), Ponceau 4R (E 124), Allura Red AC (E 129), Brilliant Black BN (E 151), Brown FK (E 154), Brown HT (E 155) and Litholrubine BK (E 180) for inclusion in the list of food ingredients set up in Annex IIIa of Directive 2000/13/EC. Efsa Journal. 2010 Oct;8(10):1778.

  3. McCann D, Barrett A, Cooper A, Crumpler D, Dalen L, Grimshaw K, Kitchin E, Lok K, Porteous L, Prince E, Sonuga-Barke E. Food additives and hyperactive behaviour in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the community: a randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial. The lancet. 2007 Nov 3;370(9598):1560-7.

  4. Scientific Opinion on the re-evaluation of Brown HT (E 155) as a food additive | EFSA [Internet]. www.efsa.europa.eu. 2010 [cited 2023 Oct 10]. Available from: https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/1536

  5. Table of food additive permissions in the US and Europe [Internet]. www.foodstandards.gov.au. Available from: https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/additives/pages/tableoffoodadditivep5753.aspx


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.