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Authorised colourants


Colours, which may be used in foodstuffs, and their conditions of use are harmonised so as to protect consumer health and prevent divergent national legislation from obstructing the free movement of foodstuffs. Updated lists of such colours are regularly produced.


European Parliament and Council Directive 94/36/EC of 30 June 1994 on colours for use in foodstuffs [See amending acts].



The Directive applies to the colours used in authorized foodstuffs as listed in Annex I thereto, such as E 100 (curcumin) and E 102 (tartrazine).

The Directive does not apply to:

  • foodstuffs, flavourings and their components, incorporated during the manufacturing of compound foodstuffs, such as paprika and saffron;
  • colours used for the colouring of the external parts of foodstuffs.

The Directive prohibits the use of colours in certain foodstuffs, including mineral water and whole milk.

Committee procedure

The Commission is assisted by the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health.


Together with Directive 95/45/EC (see the Related Acts section below), the Directive, which is a specific application of the general legislation on additives, has replaced the 1962 legislation concerning colouring matters.


ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Directive 94/36/EC [adoption: codecision COD/1991/0368]10.09.199431.12.1995OJ L 237 of 10.09.1994 [corrigenda: OJ L 252 of 04.10.1996 and OJ L 259 of 07.10.1994]
Amending act(s)Entry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Regulation (EC) No 1882/2003 [adoption: codecision COD/2001/0314]20.11.2003-OJ L 284 of 31.10.2003


Specific purity criteria

Commission Directive 95/45/EC of 26 July 1995 laying down specific purity criteria concerning colours for use in foodstuffs [Official Journal L 226 of 22.09.1995].
The Directive lays down, in its Annex, the list of specific purity criteria which apply to the colours mentioned in Directive 94/36/EC.
In order to adapt these criteria to technical progress and to the specifications and analytical techniques concerning colours laid down in the Codex alimentarius drawn up by the Joint FAO-WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives, this Directive was last amended by Commission Directive 2006/33/EC [Official Journal L 82 of 21.3.2006] (as regards sunset yellow FCF (E 110) and titanium dioxide (E 171).

Last updated: 22.02.2007
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