Scientific Opinion on re-evaluation of chlorophyllins (E 140(ii)) as food additives

Chlorophyllins, chlorophyllin a, chlorophyllin b, chlorin e6, rhodin g7, E 140(ii), food colours
First published in the EFSA Journal
7 May 2015
15 April 2015
Scientific Opinion


Chlorophyllins (E 140(i)) are obtained by saponification of a solvent extract from sources, such as grass, lucerne, and nettle, that could not be regarded as edible plant material or food for humans. Chlorophyllins represent 90 % of the colouring matter in the food additive E 140(ii); the remaining part consists of other pigments, such as carotenoids, together with oils, fats and waxes derived from the source material. The Panel noted that the material used in many studies, identified as “chlorophyllins”, was quite often, if not always, a copper complex of chlorophyllins (E 141(ii)). There are no data regarding the absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion (ADME) and toxicity of chlorophyllins (E 140(ii)). Considering the available data on chlorophylls (E 140(i)), the Panel concluded that chlorophyllins are not metabolites of chlorophylls in humans and owing to their differences in physico-chemical properties, it was not possible to support read-across for toxicity data between these two compounds. The Panel considered that it is necessary to carefully review the definition and identity of E 140(ii) in order to adequately characterise the food additive E 140(ii)) as used in the market. This will also allow proper assessment of its safety when relevant studies of the compound to which consumers are actually exposed become available. Considering the absence of relevant ADME and toxicity data, and because chlorophyllins (E 140(ii)) are neither natural constituents of the regular diet nor metabolites of chlorophylls in humans, the Panel concluded that it was not possible to assess the safety of chlorophyllins (E 140(ii)) as food additives.

Panel members at the time of adoption

Fernando Aguilar, Riccardo Crebelli, Alessandro Di Domenico, Birgit Dusemund, Maria Jose Frutos, Pierre Galtier, David Gott, Ursula Gundert-Remy, Claude Lambré, Jean-Charles Leblanc, Oliver Lindtner, Peter Moldeus, Alicja Mortensen, Pasquale Mosesso, Agneta Oskarsson, Dominique Parent-Massin, Ivan Stankovic, Ine Waalkens-Berendsen, Rudolf Antonius Woutersen, Matthew Wright and Younes Maged.
Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources Added to Food
fip [at]
EFSA Journal 2015;13(5):4085
Question Number
On request from
European Commission