The use of colors in foods has become more popular with the increasing choice of consumers buying a product by seeing its colors and look and feel. In fact, modern consumers are more likely to buy a product that appeals to them. Just imagine the sight of a bright red treat that can make your mouth water without a doubt.
If your food item displays a beautiful, vibrant red color, it may be because of the use of Red No. 3 (Erythrosine), also known as FD&C Red 3 - Acid Red 51. There are a number of foods that contain this dye, such as candy, pastries, breakfast cereals, and popsicles. Have you ever imagined if it is safe to consume foods containing this color additive? Or is Erythrosine (Red No. 3) safe for use?
Well! The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Erythrosine (FD&C Red No. 3) for use in food, and thus they are safe. In addition to this, the FDA approved this dye in 1931 -alongside others. Still, wondering whether Erythrosine - FD&C Red 3 - Acid Red 51 is safe for use or not? Isn't it? All right! This blog will tell you everything about Erythrosine - FD&C Red 3 - Acid Red 51 and help you understand how safe they are when used in foods.
So, let’s start with the basics!
Erythrosine is an organoiodine chemical compound derived from fluorone, also known as Erythrosine B or Red No 3. It is a synthetic cherry-pink food coloring commonly used in foods. Basically, it's a salt of 2,4,5,7-tetraiodofluorescein disodium. As a powder or granule, it appears red-orange in color. The wavelength at which it is most absorbent is 526 nm.
This additive has several uses, such as coloring some foods red (its E number is E127), disguising dental plaque, and staining some types of cells. Moreover, color additives used in foods & beverages, drugs, cosmetics, and medications are regulated by the USFDA. Therefore, they are safe for use in food and medications and are used across the globe.
Erythrosine is most widely used in a variety of applications, including sweets, candies, and popsicles. In addition, it is used to color pistachio shells and most importantly in cake-decorating gels across the globe. With the E127 food additive number, it is considered a food additive.
In addition, the use of erythrosine is common across the globe. Despite being allowed for use in colored food and ingested drugs in the USA without restriction, erythrosine is, however, prohibited for use in cosmetics and external drugs.
Furthermore, erythrosine can be used as;
Following are the number of systems under which it can be found:
In spite of the fact that FD&C colors are approved for use in food and cosmetics, there is still much controversy surrounding their safety and health concerns. It has been decades since many studies have been conducted on their safety and usage. No doubt, the amount of exposure to these ingredients has increased with the increasing use and popularity of processed foods.
FDA has some strict rules and regulations regarding the production of these color additives to ensure safety and prevent any adverse side effects. Furthermore, the agency approves colors only after they have been tested in batches and proved to be safe for use in food products.
Hence, they are safe to use and have no harmful side effects on humans. Nevertheless, they may sometimes cause behavioral problems in children, such as hyperactivity, irritation, and restlessness, but this is extremely rare.
One of the best things to put your mind at ease is that erythrosine has very poor absorption into the human body after consumption. Thankfully, Johnson-Arbor reports that only about 1% of all Erythrosine ingested by humans can be absorbed into the bloodstream after consumption.
In the feces, erythrosine remains unchanged since it is not metabolized by the body. Due to these characteristics, it is unlikely that humans will be exposed to Erythrosine in foods for very long.
Therefore, taking Erythrosine, or red dye number 3 - Acid Red 51, seems safe to almost everyone.
Furthermore, there is no evidence that Red No. 3 poses any health risks if consumed properly and occasionally. However, it is best recommended that you carefully review the ingredients listed on food packaging for necessary health and safety concerns.
Despite the widespread use of Erythrosine in food products, it is less common to find it in the United States than in other countries across the globe. In the USA, Erythrosine may be used in colored foods, ingested drugs, and cosmetics without restrictions; however, its use is prohibited to some extent in external drugs and cosmetics. Moreover, it is also forbidden to use the lake variant in the United States.
Food colorings preserve and restore natural colors during processing to produce aesthetically and psychologically pleasing foods. A cake decorating professional and consumers alike would benefit from the products that are intended to enhance the aesthetics of cake icing and cake decorations. And the stability of synthetic food colors is greater than that of natural food colorings, and the manufacture of synthetic food colors is more cost-effective and offers numerous advantages such as higher intensity, long shelf-life, and excellent concentration value.
According to experts, Erythrosine offers more significant advantages over alternative red food colorings (Red 40, Allura Red, and Carmine), because of its superior qualities in terms of food coloring, longevity, bleeding, and the quality of the final color, which improves the visual appearance of the food. In addition, Erythrosine is used in foods to generate precise visual effects and distinctive shades that cannot be achieved by using any other food coloring like this one.
And it is easier to apply Erythrosine than other alternatives to red food coloring due to its superior heat stability. This is why alternative red food colorings can't be used in canned preserved cherries, whereas Erythrosine can be used in canned preserved cherries without a doubt. As far as the manufacture of this coloring is concerned, there is no reason to believe that the erythrosine preparation can cause allergies.
According to Dr. Louis W. Sullivan, the Secretary of Health and Human Services stated that the risk of getting severe health problems like cancer from Red No.3 is extremely small, and it can be negligible. In terms of how small this risk was, the FDA explained that it did not consider it to be harmful, and is absolutely safe. However, over the course of a lifetime of consumption, the risk of getting cancer is no more than 1 in 100,000 -and it happens only when consumed in high amounts.
And the same can be said of almost everything you consume daily, be it your normal cold drink or energy drink like Redbull. These drinks can be harmful and cause various health problems when used in large quantities. To make it more clear, let's better understand this with the following example,
Natural disasters pose a 70-to-one danger to 100,000 people, while railroad accidents and air disasters pose a 6 per 100,000 danger. Comparing these two, Erythrosine has significantly fewer health effects, which is negligible as well.
According to Rachel Fine, owner of NY City's To The Pointe Nutrition and registered dietitian, the major problem is the variations in regulations across the world. In addition, regulatory agencies in the U.S. use a risk-based approach to food safety, which means that the use of these ingredients is negligible in foods, they are not flagged as any kind of risk and are tested to be safe.
Erythrosine is claimed to be the most suitable for use in food coloring preparations for coloring icing and other cake decorations to achieve color enhancement, especially in Australia and New Zealand. There is a strong belief that food coloring preparations containing the color additive, Erythrosine have superior coloring properties, including high strength, longevity, lack of bleeding, and improved quality of the final product. And this belief has been substantiated by scientific studies.
In addition to the pink, lavender, violet, royal blue, and black coloring ranges, there are also a variety of coloring effects that can be achieved using this coloring agent. Additionally, it has been proven that Erythrosine is a more effective and bright red colorant used in the food industry for technical purposes and visual appearance.
Moreover, it is highly recommended to buy FD&C colors from reputed food color manufacturers and exporters that follow the USFDA standards and regulations to produce premium quality colors that are 100% safe to consume and deliver more vibrant colors to your food products.