CI Natural Yellow 6

Physical Description

Saffron is the dried stigma of the Crocus Sativus plant. It is a reddish-brown or golden yellow powder that has a slightly bitter taste. Crocin and crocetin are the coloring principles of saffron. Together crocin and crocetin are present in the spice saffron at a total concentration of 4-6%. Crocin and crocetin are solids. Crocin is a yellow-orange glycoside that is soluble in hot water, sparingly soluble in absolute alcohol, glycerine, and propylene glycol, and insoluble in vegetable oils. At approximately 186° C, crocin melts with decomposition and has an absorption maxima in methanol at about 464 nm. Crocetin is a dicarboxylic acid that is only slightly soluble in water and most organic solvents although it is soluble in pyridine and similar organic bases as well as in dilute sodium hydroxide. Crocetin forms brick-red rhombs from acetic anhydride that melt with decomposition at about 285°C. Saffron shows good overall performance as a food colorant because it is stable toward light, oxidation, microbiological attack, and changes in pH.




Regulatory Approvals

JECFA: Saffron is regarded as a food ingredient rather than an additive thus it is not appropriate to allocate an ADI (29th meeting, 1986).

USA: Saffron is a color additive exempt from certification and permanently listed for food use at GMP (21 CFR 73.500).

EU: Saffron is generally considered a coloring food in the EU, rather than an additive food color. A coloring food is a food ingredient used for coloring purposes.


Safety Reviews

Evaluation of certain food additives and contaminants (29th Report of the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives) WHO Technical Report Series No. 733, 1986. Available online