Annatto Butter Color
Annatto Margarine Color
Annatto extracts, bixin-based
Annatto extracts, norbixin-based
Annatto, Bixin, Norbixin
Solvent-extracted bixin and norbixin
Alkali extracted annatto
Oil extracted annatto
CAS No. 1393-63-1
CI Natural Orange 4
CI No. 75120
Annatto extracts are obtained from the outer layer of the seeds of the tropical tree Bixa orellana. The principal pigment is cis-bixin, which is contained in the resinous coating of the seed itself, producing color ranges from light yellow to orange.
Annatto extracts have been used for over two centuries as a food colors, especially in cheese, and various types are now used in a wide range of food products, including butter, margarine, salad dressing, ice cream and other frozen desserts, confectionery, egg products, fish and fish products, meat products, cereals, cakes, beverages, soup mixes, fruit products, snacks, bakery products, spices and seasonings, and sausage casings, along with drugs and cosmetics.
EU defined in Commission Regulation (EU) No 23/2012
The Codex Alimentarius Commission has finalized authorization of Annatto extracts, bixin-based (160b(i)) for use three food categories and Annatto extracts, norbixin-based (160b(ii)) for use in flavored fluid milk drinks, as noted in the General Standard of Food Additives (GSFA). A large number of other applications of Annatto extracts, both bixin and norbixin-based as a color additive in foods and beverages have been proposed and are pending authorization, following completion of the review and comments process. Most applications are pending approval at Step 7 of the Step Process with few at Step 4 of the Process. The MPL for most of these applications range from 200-500 ppm, with few exceptions of lower limits in selected types of foods.
JECFA established an ADI for bixin of 0–12 mg/kg bw on the basis of the NOEL of 1311 mg/kg bw per day from a 90-day study in male rats fed an extract containing 92% bixin, corrected for pigment content and applying a safety factor of 100. The Committee established a group ADI for norbixin and its sodium and potassium salts of 0–0.6 mg/kg bw (expressed as norbixin) on the basis of the NOEL of 69 mg/kg bw per day from a 90-day study in male rats fed an extract containing 91.6% norbixin, corrected for pigment content and applying a safety factor of 100. The Committee further evaluated compositional data on aqueous processed bixin and alkali-processed norbixin (acid-precipitated), together with toxicological data on annatto extracts for which NOELs had been identified in 90-day studies of toxicity. It concluded that the use of these annatto extracts as sources of bixin or norbixin would not raise safety concerns, provided that they complied with the relevant specifications. Accordingly, the ADIs given above could be applied to bixin and norbixin derived from those annatto extracts. The Committee noted that the pigment in alkali-processed norbixin (not acid-precipitated) consists of sodium or potassium salts of norbixin and that compositional data on this extract, complying with the specifications, did not raise safety concerns. Consequently, the Committee concluded that the group ADI for norbixin and its sodium and potassium salts could be applied to norbixin salts from this source. If all the pigment ingested were bixin, the estimated dietary exposure of 1.5 mg/day would result in an intake of bixin of 26 μg/kg bw per day, corresponding to approximately 0.2% of the ADI (0–12 mg/kg bw). Similarly, if all the pigment were norbixin, the estimated dietary exposure of 1.5 mg/day would result in an intake of norbixin of 26 μg/kg bw per day, corresponding to approximately 4% of the ADI (0–0.6 mg/kg bw).
JECFA (2006). Safety Evaluation of Certain Additives and Contaminants. WHO Food Add. Series No. 58. Sixty-seventh meeting of the Joint WHO/FAO Expert Committee on Food Additives. Available online
Safety evaluation of certain food additives and contaminants (2003). Prepared by the 61st meeting of the JECFA. WHO food additives series 52. Available online
EFSA ANS Panel (EFSA Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources added toFood), 2016. Scientiﬁc opinion on the safety of annatto extracts (E 160b) as a food additive. EFSA Journal 2016;14(8):4544, 87 pp. Available online