Scientific Opinion on the re-evaluation of chlorophylls (E 140(i)) as food additives

chlorophylls, chlorophyll a, chlorophyll b, phaeophytin a, phaeophytin b, E 140(i), food colours
First published in the EFSA Journal
7 May 2015
15 April 2015
Scientific Opinion


Chlorophylls (E 140(i)) were previously evaluated by Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) in 1969 and the Scientific Committee on Food (SCF) in 1975 and 1983 and, in relation to special medical purposes, for young children in 1996. Neither of the Committees established a numerical Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI). Specifications should be updated to adequately cover chlorophylls (E 140(i)), as currently up to 90 % of the extract is unidentified and chlorophylls (E 140(i)) may be obtained from sources that could not be regarded as regular edible plant materials or foods (grass, lucerne, nettle) for humans. Based on the origin of chlorophylls (E 140(i)), the Panel also concluded that data on pesticides, mycotoxins and other components with biological activity (e.g. phytoestrogens, phytotoxins and allergens) should be included in the specification and kept as low as possible to avoid any potential adverse effects (allergenicity, endocrinal effects). The few biological data available indicate that chlorophylls are poorly absorbed by humans and are not metabolised to chlorophyllins (the dephytylated form of chlorophylls). The Panel considered that the few toxicological studies available for chlorophylls were limited and did not comply with the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) guidelines or current regulatory requirements, and therefore did not allow for an ADI to be established. The Panel concluded that the available database for chlorophylls was inadequate for risk assessment. However, chlorophylls are natural dietary constituents, which are present at relatively high concentrations in a number of foods. In addition, the exposure resulting from the use of chlorophylls (E 140(i)) as food additives is lower than the exposure to chlorophylls from the regular diet. Therefore, the Panel concluded that, at the reported use levels, chlorophylls (E 140(i)) are not of safety concern as regards their current use 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):4089
Question Number
On request from
European Commission