Colours

These drinks were used in a taste-test. Volunteers had to say which one they preferred.

Click onto the glass of orange drink that you think will taste the best.

Three orange drinks

E-Numbers and Colours

Colours that are allowed to be used in foods are strictly tested (see Safety and Regulation). Some common food colourings are shown in the table.

Some common food colourings
E Number Name Description Foods
E100 Curcumin Orange-yellow colour that is extracted from the roots of the turmeric plant. Curry, fats and oils, processed cheese.
E101 Riboflavin Riboflavin is also known as vitamin B2. It can be obtained by fermenting yeast or synthesised artificially. In foods, it is used as an orange-yellow colour. Sauces, processed cheese and foods with added vitamins such as bread.
E102 Tartrazine Yellow coloured synthetic azo dye. This colouring sparks controversy as some groups suggest it causes behavioural problems in children (see food issues ). Is no longer widely used. Now rarely used in curries and some ready-meals.
E160a Beta-carotene Orange-yellow colour found in plants such as carrots, tomatoes and oranges. Soft drinks, margarine, butter, yoghurt.
E150a Plain caramel Dark brown to black colour. The most common colouring. 90% of all colouring used is caramel. Obtained by the heating of sugars. Cola drinks, confectionery, baked-foods, ice cream, chocolate, beers, vinegar and whisky.
E123 Amaranth Dark purple coloured synthetic colour. Similar in colour to blackcurrants. Powdered soup, jam, ice cream, instant gravy.

Find out where food colours come from