INS No. 123
E 123
CAS No. 915-67-3
CI Food Red 9
Naphtol Rot S

Physical Description

Amaranth is a monoazo dye that occurs as reddish brown to dark reddish brown powder or granules. It is principally the trisodium salt of 3-hydroxy-4-(4-sulfonato-1-naphthylazo)-2,7-naphthalenedisulfonate and subsidiary coloring matters together with sodium chloride and/or sodium sulfate as the principal uncolored components. It may be converted to the corresponding aluminum lake.

Common Uses

Amaranth can be used to color a variety of foods and beverages, including confectionery products, desserts, cereals, bakery products, dairy products, sausages, and snack foods.


Commission Regulation (EU) No 231/2012

Codex GSFA Provisions

Amaranth (INS No. 123) is added to foods and beverages at concentrations up to a maximum permitted level (MPL) as established by the Codex Alimentarius Commission. There are currently 5 food categories for which MPLs for amaranth have been adopted in the General Standard of Food Additives. Other applications of amaranth as a color additive in foods and beverages have been proposed and are pending adoption, following completion of the review and comments process.

Regulatory Approvals

JECFA: ADI of 0-0.5 mg/kg bw (28th Report, 1984)

EU: ADI of 0.15 mg/kg body weight (EFSA, 2010); EFSA has also established MPLs for use of Amaranth in specific foods and beverages in Europe

Safety Reviews

Evaluation of Certain Food Additives and Contaminants (28th report of the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives). WHO Technical Report Series No. 710, 1984. Available online

EFSA Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources added to Food (ANS); Scientific Opinion on the re-evaluation of Amaranth (E 123) as a food additive on request from the European Commission. EFSA Journal 2010;8(7):1649. [41 pp.]. Available online