Ponceau 4R, Crimson 4R (E124)

Crimson Ponceau 4R is a synthetic food additive with strong coloring properties. In many countries, it is widely used as a coloring ingredient in food products, despite the fact that chemists and biologists have been focusing on its dangerous and negative effects on the human body in the past few decades. Nevertheless, manufacturers in most countries do not seem to be abandoning this cheap and effective means of coloring a variety of products, from desserts to decorative cosmetics. Its use is strictly regulated, and the European Food Safety Authority has required a reduction in the amount of permissible daily intake of the substance for an adult. These concessions and compromises are certainly more beneficial to factory and corporate owners than to consumers.

Chemical properties of the dye

smell. It has the property of rapid dissolution in water. In addition to red, when mixed with other dyes, it can give orange, brown, purple colors.

The substance is a sodium salt and is synthesized during various chemical reactions. Naturally, it does not occur anywhere in wildlife and is completely artificial.

Ponceau is the common name for a number of azo dyes, translated from French as “poppy color”. The main advantages of the E124 additive over others, and, accordingly, the reasons why manufacturers are so reluctant to give it up are its extreme cheapness, availability, as well as high resistance to oxidizing agents, reducing agents, light, high and low temperatures.

Products containing this substance retain their color after freezing, pasteurization, sterilization or refrigeration. Neutralization of the dye, that is, discoloration, can be caused by ascorbic acid.

Due to the presence of this component in the composition, the shelf life of food is increased. It can be used to make the natural color of the product more intense and attractive, to give it a completely unusual color or to restore color lost as a result of heat or chemical treatment.

Use in various industries

The bulk of the additive produced is sent to the food industry. Many products on store shelves that have the appropriate color contain the code E124.

Among them:

  • sausages and sausages;
  • fresh, smoked and salted fish;
  • seafood and preserves thereof;
  • canned fruits and berries;
  • jams, preserves, marshmallows;
  • bakery and confectionery products;
  • ice cream and desserts;
  • soft drinks.

Crimson 4R gives these products a rich, attractive glossy color and also extends shelf life.

In other industries, the substance is used:

  • for coloring hygiene products: shampoos, balms and hair masks, liquid soaps, shower gels and bath foams;
  • in decorative cosmetics: in lip glosses and lipsticks, in blush and eye shadows;
  • in the field of textile production: for dyeing woolen and silk fabrics;
  • in the pharmaceutical industry: with its help, they give the right shade to drugs.

Legislative regulation of consumption and use of a substance

The use of ponceau or crimson 4R is one of the most controversial facts in the food industry.

Today, the entire world community is divided into two camps: in some states, the use of this substance is strictly prohibited, while in others there are no such strict restrictions on this issue.

Considering that the same people live everywhere with approximately the same health characteristics, this looks very strange.

Norway, Finland and the USA are countries where food additive E124 cannot be found in food products. In Ukraine, Russia and the countries of the European Union, there are some restrictions on the use of the substance, but in general it is not prohibited. For example, in the first two it is not allowed to add it to medicines. In addition, there is a requirement regarding the rate of use of the supplement per day: until 2009, the rate was 4 mg per 1 kilogram of adult body weight, and after 2009 it was reduced to 0.7 mg. This rule is valid in Europe, Ukraine and Russia.


Danger or safety: what to expect from the addition of “ponso crimson 4R”

The results of various studies and experiments using the substance under the code E124 suggest that the substance may be hazardous for a person.

The dye is a strong allergen, and its use, accordingly, can threaten with hives, itching, angioedema, suffocation, and even death in people prone to allergies, as well as those who suffer from intolerance to aspirin and asthma.

For children, it is recommended to limit the consumption of food with this component in the composition, as it can cause them some disorders in the nervous system: anxiety, aggression, hyperactivity and distraction.

There is also information about the connection between consumption of the substance and the occurrence of cancer - it is because of this risk factor that the governments of Norway, Finland and the United States have banned it on their territory. However, no official statements on this subject have been made to date by either biologists or physicians.

Almost all over the world, the use of Ponceau 4R or crimson 4R in products does not cause any concern: manufacturers add it to desserts, sweets, sodas, pastries, ice cream, candies - in all those products that kids love it so much. Therefore, their parents and consumers in general only have to carefully study the labels in the store before putting a treat in their grocery basket. And although in most countries the use of this dye is not officially prohibited, there are substances that are more harmless and safe for human health with similar properties. Therefore, if there is an alternative without the E124 code in the composition, it is better to purchase such a product.

  1. Bolotov, V. M. Food dyes: classification, properties, analysis, application / V. M. Bolotov, A. P. Nechaev, L. A. Sarafanov. - St. Petersburg: Giord, 2008. - 240 p.: ill.