INS No. 161g
CI Food Orange 8
CAS No 514-78-3

Physical Description

Canthaxanthin occurs as a dark, crystalline powder. It is consists predominantly of trans-ß-carotene-4,4′-dione together with minor amounts of other isomers.

Common Uses

Canthaxanthin is a reddish-orange color primarily used to color the meat of poultry, salmon, and trout and the yolks of eggs indirectly through animal feeds. Canthaxanthin can also be used directly for coloring food such as tomato products, fruit drinks, sausage products and baked goods as well as pharmaceuticals.

Specifications for Food Use

Commission Regulation (EU) No 23/2012

Codex GSFA Provisions

Canthaxanthin (INS No. 161g) is added to foods and beverages at concentrations up to a maximum permitted level (MPL) as adopted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission. There are more than 30 food categories for which MPLs for canthaxanthin are adopted in the General Standard of Food Additives (GSFA).

Regulatory Approval

JECFA: ADI of 0-0.03 mg/kg (44th report, 1995)

USA: Canthaxanthin is a color additive exemption from certification and permanently listed for coloring foods generally subject to the the following restriction: ≤ 30 mg/lb of solid or semisolid food or per pint of liquid food. It may be safely used in broiler chicken feed (≤ 4.41 mg per kg of complete feed) and in the feed of salmonid fish (≤80 mg per kg of finished feed) subject to specific restrictions (21 CFR 73.75) and at for drug use at levels consistent with GMP for ingested drugs only (21 CFR 73.1075)

EU: 0-0.3 mg/kg ADI (EFSA, 2010) Canthaxanthin is used in medicinal products in accordance with Directive 2009/35/EC.

Safety Reviews

Evaluation of certain food additives and contaminants. (Forty-forth report of the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives) WHO Technical Report Series. No. 859, 1995. Available online

EFSA Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources added to Food (ANS); Scientific Opinion on the reevaluation of canthaxanthin (E 161 g) as a food additive. EFSA Journal 2010; 8(10):1852 [42 pp.]. Available online