Scientific Opinion on the re-evaluation of anthocyanins (E 163) as a food additive

Anthocyanins, E 163, food colour
First published in the EFSA Journal
23 April 2013
13 March 2013
Last Updated
23 May 2013. This version replaces the previous one/s.
Scientific Opinion


Following a request from the European Commission to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the Scientific Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources added to Food (ANS) was asked to provide a scientific opinion re-evaluating the safety of anthocyanins (E 163). The Panel concluded that the currently available toxicological database was inadequate to establish a numerical ADI for anthocyanins. For anthocyanins extracted from edible fruits and vegetables by aqueous processes, changes in composition would not be expected. The Panel concluded that provided exposure from use as a food additive was comparable to that from the diet the underlying conclusion in the 1975 SCF opinion that such food additives derived from natural sources would still apply. The majority of data are on aqueous grape skin extract (GSKE) and blackcurrant extracts and the Panel considers that exposures estimated from current uses and use levels these extracts are unlikely to be of safety concern. The Panel recommends that the specifications for E 163 should be modified to reflect this conclusion. For anthocyanins extracted from other sources and/or using non-aqueous extraction methods the absence of characterisation does not allow verification that this conclusion in the 1975 SCF opinion could be applied. The Panel noted that for some extracts it had proven possible to assess a group based on toxicological and compositional data on representative samples across the range of extracts. The Panel concluded that refined exposure estimates of anthocyanins used as a food additive were higher than dietary intakes and that these did not include intakes from colouring foods. Therefore the Panel would recommend that appropriate characterisation and toxicological data should be required to permit a further re-evaluation of anthocyanins including comparative data on anthocyanins (E 163) produced by aqueous extraction.

Panel members at the time of adoption

Fernando Aguilar, Riccardo Crebelli, Birgit Dusemund, Pierre Galtier, David Gott, Ursula Gundert-Remy, Jürgen König, Claude Lambré, Jean-Charles Leblanc, Alicja Mortensen, Pasquale Mosesso, Agneta Oskarsson, Dominique Parent-Massin, Martin Rose, Ivan Stankovic, Paul Tobback, Ine Waalkens-Berendsen, Rudolf Antonius Woutersen and Matthew Wright.
Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources Added to Food
ans [at]
EFSA Journal 2013;11(4):3145
Question Number
On request from
European Commission