Food coloring E129 is dangerous to health

Processed foods contain many food additives, including dyes intended to improve the color of certain foods. Many of these additives have been identified by scientists as having potentially harmful health effects. Among them, food coloring E129. In a recent study, it was associated with the development of colitis in experimental mouse models. explanations.

What is E129 food coloring?

Food coloring, denoted E129 (Allura Red), is a synthetic red dye. It belongs to the chemical family of azo compounds. Due to its potentially harmful health effects, it is banned in many European countries (Germany, Denmark or Switzerland). In France, it is still licensed. They are found especially in desserts, fruit juices, yogurts, some types of cheese, or even ice cream.

Scientific studies have already suggested a role for this pigment in allergies and attention disorders with or without it Hyperactivity (ADHD) in children. It would also be neurotoxic and carcinogenic. Recently, researchers have studied its possible effect on the functioning of the intestine. And also on the development of inflammatory bowel diseases. The results of this study have been published in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

Dye E129 and gut health

In recent years, research on gut health has primarily focused on the link between microbiota, immunity, and the development of intestinal diseases, especially chronic inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease or proctitis hemorrhagic. On the other hand, the influence of environmental factors, in particular exposure to food additives, is still poorly documented.

In this study, the researchers worked on experimental models of colitis (inflammation of the colon that resembles the phenomena observed during chronic inflammatory diseases of the colon in humans) in mice. Intermittent exposure of mice to E129 dye over a 12-week period did not alter the susceptibility of mice to colitis. In contrast, early exposure, early in mouse life, increased the mice’s susceptibility to colitis.

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Reduce consumption of E129, mainly in children

Moreover, even if human exposure to the dye is more like intermittent exposure, chronic exposure to the E129 dye in mice causes mild colitis, and is associated with two mechanisms:
High levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the colon.
Alteration of the epithelial barrier of the intestine.

Induction of colitis in mice chronically exposed to the dye was not found in mice lacking an enzyme involved in serotonin biosynthesis. Finally, by transferring gut microbes from mice chronically exposed to E129 to unexposed mice, the induced colitis was more severe. Thus, chronic exposure to the E129 dye causes colitis in mice, which is serotonin-related, but not microbiota-related. It remains to be determined whether such an effect could exist in humans. But in the meantime, the researchers recommend avoiding the consumption of this dye in children and on a regular basis in adults.

Estelle B. Doctor of Pharmacy


Chronic exposure to synthetic food colorings Accessed Dec 24

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