INS No. 123
CAS No. 915-67-3
CI Food Red 9
CI No. 16185
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.
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.
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. Many 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.
JECFA (1984) Evaluation of Certain Food Additives and Contaminants (28th report of the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives). WHO Technical Report Series, 710. 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