Citrus red (E121)

Citrus red 2 food additive is extremely rare on food labels and can be hidden in food under the code E121. However, recently it has practically not been used in the world for food production, despite the appetizing name. Citrus red 2 dye is able to give food characteristic shades, however, at the same time, it can cause irreparable harm to health even in the smallest quantities. Almost all countries of the world have already banned its use in the food industry, but the United States has distinguished itself in this matter in a negative sense - in some states, for example, Florida, there is no ban on the use of E121.

Chemical characterization of the substance

Synthetic dye “citrus red 2” is obtained in the process of coal processing. It contains coal tar in its structure. In appearance, the substance is a granular powder, which has a color from orange to dark red, burgundy or brown.

The substance is poorly soluble in water, but has good solubility in organic liquids containing carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen. The melting point is 150-156 degrees Celsius.

Some food additives, although according to international classifications they belong specifically to dyes, can also have an emulsifying, stabilizing, preservative effect on products. Citrus red 2 does not have these properties, and manufacturers value it precisely for its coloring effect, as well as for its solubility in organic liquids. With the help of a substance, it is possible to enhance the natural color of the product, for example, the peel of oranges. Also, the dye is able to restore the natural color of food, if it was lost after processing. Another option for using the E121 additive is to give the product a color that is different from its natural color.

Industrial use of citrus red

The substance is most often used to color personal care products - shampoos, liquid soaps, detergents, sometimes - to give a characteristic "orange" shades of perfumery and cosmetics for skin care.

In the food industry, starting in the 1960s in America, citrus fruit vendors began using E121 to enhance the attractive orange skin color of oranges, tangerines, grapefruits and others. citrus fruits. It is no longer possible to use such a peel for making jelly, candied fruit or jam - the cooked dish will have a toxic effect. On fruits treated in this way, there should be a corresponding marking “colored”, and a mark on which substance was used for dyeing.

In addition, food additive E121 tints:

  • juices;
  • cocktails;
  • drinking yoghurts ;
  • lollipops and sweets, dragees;
  • ice cream ;
  • dairy products.

Cancer and disorders in the internal organs: how citrus red 2 affects human health

The International Health Organization in its classifications classified the food supplement E121 to harmful chemicals, since the consequences of its use carry a significant danger to humans.

The maximum allowable daily dose of the supplement, allowed for a person, is not defined, and researchers generally focus on the fact that it is categorically not recommended to use it, even in minimal dosages, for either children or adults.

The composition of the substance contains components that in the human body turn into carcinogenic compounds. These elements, accumulating in tissues, blood and cells, provoke the appearance of cancer cells and the growth of malignant tumors.

Testing of the supplement was carried out in laboratory conditions using experimental rats. As a result, almost 15% of rodents developed oncological diseases of the urinary organs. Most of the animals were found to have tumors in the respiratory organs.

The substance exerts a very strong toxic load on the liver: this organ, acting as the main “filter” of the whole organism, takes the brunt of it, filtering harmful substances like 1-amino-2-naphthol. However, at the same time, the tissues of the liver itself begin to collapse, which can lead to the development of cirrhosis. It is 1-amino-2-naphthol that is one of the strongest carcinogenic elements formed from citrus red 2.

Canada, Ukraine, Russia, Australia, the countries of the European Union are very categorical in relation to the dye “citrus red 2" - its use in the food preparation process is strictly prohibited in these states. Among the manufacturers of perfume and personal care products, there is also a trend to abandon it. Against this background, it is surprising that health and food control organizations in the United States of America have not banned the use of the substance in food to date: in some states it is used to give an attractive appearance to goods. Even though the additive is officially recognized as a dangerous carcinogen, in America it can be found in sweets, citrus fruits and a variety of drinks.

Most countries where the E121 additive is banned also do not allow the import of goods that contain it, so if you buy imported goods in supermarkets as officially imported, declared and passed customs control, you are likely to encounter a dangerous matter remains minimal.

  1. Skripka I. A. FOOD DYES // Start in science. - 2019. - No. 1-1.