Vegetable Carbon



INS No. 153
E 153
EINECS No. 231-153-3
CAS 7440-44-0
Vegetable black
Activated vegetable carbon
Carbon black (vegetable sources)

Physical Description

Vegetable carbon is a black, odorless powder with color shades range from grey to black, depending on the dosage rate used.

Vegetable carbon is rarely used alone in food because it provides an intense black color that is suitable only for particular varieties of confectionery, ices or desserts. However, it can be used as a shading agent with other colors, providing increased color intensity.

Common Uses

Typical applications include confectionery, bakery products, decorations, cheese coating, black caviar substitute, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals.


EU defined in Commission Regulation (EU) No 23/2012

Regulatory Approvals

JECFA: No ADI allocated (31st Meeting, 1987)

EU: EU: No ADI allocated (EFSA, 2012). Specific food categories where vegetable carbon is authorized for use at quantum satis have been defined in Directive 94/36/EC on colors for use in foodstuffs.

Safety Reviews

EFSA Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources added to Food (ANS); Scientific Opinion on the re-evaluation of vegetable carbon (E 153) as a food additive. EFSA Journal 2012;10(4):2592. [34 pp.] Available online

JECFA (1987). Evaluation of certain food additives and contaminants. Thirty -first report of the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives. Technical Report Series No. 759. Available online