INS No. 161g
EINECS No. 208-187-2
CAS No. 514-78-3
CI Food Orange 8
CI No. 40850
Canthaxanthin was first extracted from an edible mushroom, Cantharellus cinnabarinus, in 1950. It has since been identified in sea trout, algae, daphnia, salmon, brine shrimp, and several species of flamingo. In addition to these natural sources, canthaxanthin can be synthetically produced from acetone. It is commercially available as a dry powder and a water-dispersible, dry beadlet composed of 10% colorant, gelatin, vegetable oil, sugar, starch, antioxidants, and preservatives.
Canthaxanthin is a reddish-orange color rarely used directly for coloring food such as tomato products, fruit drinks, sausage products and baked goods, but primarily used to color the meat of poultry, salmon, and trout and the yolks of eggs indirectly through animal feeds, as well as pharmaceuticals.
Canthaxanthin (INS No 161g) is added to foods and beverages at concentrations up to a maximum permitted level (MPL) in more than 30 food categories as established by the Codex Alimentarius Commission and published in the General Standard of Food Additives (GSFA).
JECFA (1995). Evaluation of certain food additives and contaminants. WHO Technical Report Series. No. 859. Forty-forth meeting of the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives. 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