Amaranth, trisodium salt or food supplement E123 - a substance that has pronounced coloring properties. That is why for a long time it was used in the food industry as a dye of food products: in certain proportions it can give food red, purple, purple, brown-red or blue-red. Today, the main consumer of Amaranth dye is the field of cosmetics production. The ban on the use of this substance in food was introduced not so long ago, and the reason for this was its strong toxic and toxic properties. Therefore, in cosmetic products, the addition of amaranth is strictly regulated, although there is every chance that it will also be completely banned in this area.
Chemical properties of the additive
E123 azo dye looks like a powder of violet, red-brown or purple. It is obtained in the processing of coal tar. In nature, there is a plant of the same name, but the substance has nothing to do with it. The additive is highly soluble in water, and at a temperature of 120 and above degrees Celsius it begins to decompose into elements, but does not undergo melting.
The persistent chemical properties of the substance are explained by the presence of nitrogen-containing coloring compounds in its composition. Due to the fact that amaranth is, in fact, a waste of the coal industry, its cost is very low, which is why it has gained considerable popularity among industrialists.
The main property of the substance is coloring. It is added to food in order to improve and intensify its natural color, to give it a different color than the natural color, or to restore a color that has changed or worsened during heat or other processing.
The food additive E123 does not affect the taste of food. The same applies to texture, shelf life and other culinary characteristics of the products. Amaranth is only responsible for color changes.
Use of the substance: from sheepskin to jam
Given the intensity of the pigment contained in the dye, it copes well with staining not only cakes or ice cream. In the textile industry, amaranth is used to dye fabrics instead of the more expensive and less common cochineal. In the field of manufacturing leather goods, jackets, sheepskin coats and fur coats, E123 is also popular: when you see an unusual fur coat in bright burgundy or scarlet, there is little doubt that it was painted with amaranth.
Also dye E123 is used to give red, pink, purple or blue color to paper or cardboard.
In the cosmetics industry, a substance is a common ingredient in lipsticks, blush, nail polishes, and other “colored” varieties of makeup and skin care products.
In food, the use of amaranth is prohibited in Russia, Ukraine and the United States. However, the European Union did not introduce such restrictions on its territory.
There you can easily get, for example, a can of canned cherries with code E123 in the composition.
In addition, amaranth is added to such products:
- dry mixes for baking, jelly, biscuits;
- breakfast cereals;
- sweet carbonated drinks;
- confectionery (ice cream, desserts, puddings, candies, dragees);
- chewing gum;
- canned fruit of a characteristic color.
Danger of using amaranth dye
For a long time, the substance was freely used in the production of various foods, desserts, and baby food. However, in the 70s of the last century, studies conducted in the USA yielded so frightening results that from that time on, Americans almost completely stopped using this supplement for cooking food. Later, a number of other countries joined them.
Experiments with laboratory rats showed that, as a result of the use of amaranth, cancerous tumors began to develop intensively in rodents. Due to its allergenic properties, the substance is extremely dangerous for people with allergies and asthmatics; it can cause hives, itching, and a runny nose. It was also revealed a negative effect on the liver and kidneys, disturbances in the functioning of these organs.
Pregnant women are forbidden to encounter any kind of dye: getting into the body, it can cause malformations in the fetus, and also threatens the future baby with a congenital allergy.
Children are also not recommended to give products with amaranth in the composition, as, according to some reports, it contributes to the manifestation of anxiety, hyperactivity, aggression and attention deficit disorder.
To date, in countries where the use of the substance is not prohibited, product packaging where this additive is in the composition must be labeled in a special way in order to attract the attention of the buyer.
Bright red, purple or violet powder with strong and lasting coloring properties is still very popular in the UK. It can be found in canned berries and fruits, desserts, jellies and other very attractive-looking products.
For precisely what reasons, Britain and other countries of the European Union so boldly ignore the results of studies by chemists and biologists regarding the properties of amaranth, is unknown. However, its danger and harm to human health over the past 50 years is no longer in doubt: the substance has a strong mutagenic, toxic and oncogenic effect, is a powerful allergen. Although to date, official bans on the use of this dye in cosmetics have not yet been introduced in all countries, manufacturers are trying to use it in smaller quantities, gradually switching to more harmless additives. The reason is that amaranth can cause hives not only from eating, but also from contact with the mucous membrane and skin. Such cases have been recorded more than once in world practice, in fact, why the attitude to the substance today has become extremely negative in most countries.