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Carmoisine ball-and-stick.png
CAS number 3567-69-9 N
PubChem 6321394
ChemSpider 11588223 YesY
UNII DR4641L47F YesY
EC number 217-699-5
KEGG C19358 N
ChEMBL CHEMBL1552837 N, CHEMBL1624506
Jmol-3D images Image 1
Image 2
Molecular formula C20H12N2Na2O7S2
Molar mass 502.44
Appearance red powder
Melting point >300 C
Solubility in water Soluble (120g/l)
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C (77 °F), 100 kPa)
 N (verify) (what is: YesY/N?)
Infobox references

Azorubine, carmoisine, Food Red 3, Azorubin S, Brillantcarmoisin O, Acid Red 14, or C.I. 14720 is a synthetic red food dye from the azo dye group. It usually comes as a disodium salt. It is a red to maroon powder. It is used for the purposes where the food is heat-treated after fermentation. It has E number E122. Some of the foods it can be present in are blancmange, marzipan, Swiss roll, jams, preserves, yoghurts, jellies, breadcrumbs, rose syrup, nougat and cheesecake mixes. It is also present in Oraldene Mouthwash and in Fanta produced in Africa.

Other names[edit]

Chemical names: 2-(4-Sulfo-1-naphthylazo)-1-naphthol-4-sulfonic acid disodium; 4-Hydroxy-3-((4-sulpho-1-naphthalenyl)azo)-1-naphthalenesulphonic acid disodium; Disodium 4-hydroxy-3-((4-sulphonatonaphthyl)azo)naphthalenesulphonate

Color index: EEC No.: E122, C.I. 14720, C.I. Acid Red 14, C.I. Acid Red 14 disodium salt, C.I. Food Red 3

Other names: Azorubine; Brillantcarmoisin O, Schultz Nr. 208; Solar Rubine; Solochrome Blue FB; Standacol carmoisine; Tertracid Red CA; Tertrochrome Blue FB; omega Chrome Blue FB; Nylomine Acid Red P4B; Omega Chrome Blue FB; Poloxal Red 2B; Java Rubine N; Karmesin; Kenachrome Blue 2R; Kiton Crimson 2R; Kiton Rubine R; Cerven kysela 14; Cerven potravinarska 3; Chrome Fast Blue 2R; Chromotrope FB; Cilefa Rubine R; Crimson 2EMBL; Diadem Chrome Blue G; Atul Acid Crystal Red; Acid Brilliant Rubine 2G[1]

Possible health effects[edit]

It appears to cause allergic or intolerance reactions, particularly amongst those with an aspirin intolerance. Other reactions can include a rash similar to nettle rash and skin swelling. Asthmatics sometimes react badly to it.

It is one of the colourants that the Hyperactive Children's Support Group recommends be eliminated from the diet of children.

Azo dyes generally have been known to be carcinogenic for over 60 years[2] and are linked, particularly, to bladder cancer. However E122 itself has not been proven to be carcinogenic.[3][4]

On 6 September 2007, the British Food Standards Agency revised advice on certain artificial food additives, including E122.

Professor Jim Stevenson from Southampton University, and author of the report, said: "This has been a major study investigating an important area of research. The results suggest that consumption of certain mixtures of artificial food colours and sodium benzoate preservative are associated with increases in hyperactive behaviour in children.

"However, parents should not think that simply taking these additives out of food will prevent hyperactive disorders. We know that many other influences are at work but this at least is one a child can avoid."

The following additives were tested in the research:

  • Sunset yellow (E110) (FD&C Yellow #6) - Colouring found in squash drinks
  • Carmoisine (E122) - Red colouring in jellies
  • Tartrazine (E102) (FD&C Yellow #5) - Yellow colouring
  • Ponceau 4R (E124) - Red colouring
  • Sodium benzoate (E211) - Preservative
  • Quinoline yellow (E104) - Food colouring
  • Allura red AC (E129) (FD&C Red #40) - Orange / red food dye[5]

On 10 April 2008, the Foods Standard Agency called for a voluntary removal of the colours (but not sodium benzoate) by 2009.[6] In addition, it recommended that there should be action to phase them out in food and drink in the European Union (EU) over a specified period.[7]

The EFSA (European Food Standards Agency) has reviewed the Southampton Study and determined that the results are inconclusive and warrant no action at this time in the EU pending the outcome of further testing.[8]

UK ministers have agreed that the six colourings will be phased out by 2009.[9]

Azorubine is commonly used in the UK and in several other countries in a popular brand of soda (Vimto) and in children's medicine Calpol,[10] but it is a prohibited food additive in Canada,[11] Japan, Norway, Sweden and the United States.[12]


  1. ^
  2. ^ McLean P, Reid E, Gurney MW (June 1964). "Effect of azo-dye carcinogenesis on enzymes concerned with urea synthesis in rat liver". Biochem. J. 91 (3): 464–73. PMC 1202978. PMID 4284639. 
  4. ^ Ford GP, Stevenson BI, Evans JG (December 1987). "Long-term toxicity study of carmoisine in rats using animals exposed in utero.". Food Chem Toxicol. 25 (12): 919–25. doi:10.1016/0278-6915(87)90285-7. PMID 3692399. 
  5. ^ Parents warned of additives link
  6. ^ BBC Europe-wide food colour ban call 10 April 2008
  7. ^ FSA Board discusses colours advice 10 April 2008
  8. ^ EFSA Scientific Opinion on the re-evaluation of Azorubine/Carmoisine (E 122) as a food additive 24 November 2009
  9. ^ BBC Ministers agree food colour ban 12 November 2008
  10. ^ Pat Thomas (29 October). "Behind the Label: Calpol". The Ecologist. 
  11. ^ "Food additives". CBC News. 29 September 2008. [dead link]
  12. ^ "E122 Carmoisine". UK Food Guide. Retrieved 1 May 2014.