swatch-yellow5.jpgTartrazine (also known as “FD&C Yellow Number 5” or “E-102” in Europe) is a coal-tar derivative that is used to colour foods, cosmetics, and other products. It is literally industrial waste. I have a strong sensitivity to this substance, and believe there are many others out there as well who (perhaps unknowingly) have the same problem. If you get mysterious hives or sometimes wake up with swollen eyelids, this could be the culprit.


Tartrazine is also reputed to be a catalyst in hyperactivity/ADD, other behavioural problems, asthma, migranes, thyroid cancer, and lupus!

Have you noticed how many children are being diagnosed as “hyperactive” these days? There is research that shows there might be a link (and that dietary changes can help.) Many of the children on Ritalin or other behavioural drugs are probably just eating a diet rich in toxic food additives that are approved by the government as safe. Some schools have noticed a major difference in pupils’ behaviour after banning snacks with tartrazine.

Ironically enough, some of the drugs for these conditions contain tartrazine and are probably just making the problem worse! I stop just short of declaring it a conspiracy on the drug companies’ part, but it’s something to think about.


Why do food companies use it? It’s simply cheaper than natural alternatives. The important nutrient beta carotene can be used to achieve a similar colour, but it costs more for the manufacturer. Can you imagine having the idea to put coal tar waste into food as a colouring? As with many of the evils in this world, it all comes down to “the bottom line” (aka greed.)

What products contain tartrazine?
Here is a list of some of the things that often (but not always!) contain tartrazine:
• prescription and non-prescription pharmaceutical drugs
• skim milk
• yoghurt
• butter/margarine
• orange coloured cheeses
• Kraft Macaroni and Cheese (“Kraft Dinner”)
• Orange colored snacks (cheezies, Doritos, etc.)
• Candy
• Gelatin and pudding desserts
• Ice Cream
• Mountain Dew
• Tang
• other artificially colored drinks
• boxed breakfast cereals
• shrimp
• canned fruits and vegetables
• pastas
• breads, cakes, and other baked goods (especially ones that contain “candied fruit”)
• wasabi
• alcoholic drinks (especially mixed drinks like sours but also some beer!)
• shampoo
• cosmetics
• lotions
• toothpaste
• vitamins
• birth control pills
• aspirin


This is only a partial list of things to look out for tartrazine in. It’s hiding in all kinds of places you wouldn’t expect such as chocolate pudding and even caviar, so watch out and check those labels!

tartrazine-e102-sunset-yellow-e110.jpgIn the United States, manufacturers are required to indicate that a product contains tartrazine on the label. In Canada, labels are only required to say “colour.”


In the United Kingdom and Europe, tartrazine is referred to as “E-102” though it has been banned in Norway and Austria.

This article was taken on by Mary Bateman, one of the crusaders against tartrazine.