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Brilliant Black

Brilliant Black, E151 - Brilliant Black BN, Black PN is a synthetic coal tar and azo dye, used as a black food coloring. It has the appearance of solid, fine powder or granules and it is very soluble in water.

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COMMON FOOD ADDITIVES Aluminum Amaranth Aspartame Azodicarbonamide Benzoic Acid Brilliant Black Calcium Benzoate Calcium Sulphite Calcium Stearate Canola Oil Carrageenan Corn Syrup Datem DHC (dihydrocoumarin) Hydrogenated Oil Guar Gum Modified Food Starch Modified Corn Starch MSG Paprika Oleoresin Paraben Potassium Nitrate Red no 2 Sucralose Caramel Yellow 6 Xanthan Gum



Because brilliant black is an azo dye, it may produce adverse reactions in individuals with aspirin allergy and it may also cause hives. This food additive is also a histamine liberator, so it may aggravate or intensify symptoms of asthma. Individuals with rhinitis, urticaria, or other allergies should also avoid brilliant black.

Another side effect of brilliant black may occur in the digestive system. In the intestines, brilliant black can be transformed by bacteria into compounds that could possibly become hazardous.

Brilliant black is believed to have an effect on hyperactivity and ADHD in children. The Hyperactive Children's Support Group (HACSG) has recommended the elimination of this chemical additive from the diets of children.

Because of the many possible side effects, the use of brilliant black as a food additive is currently banned in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the U.S. Elsewhere, the ADI for brilliant black varies. Depending on the country, the ADI could be up to 1-5 mg/kg bw (bw=body weight) or 0-2.5 mg/kg bw.


Brilliant black may be used as a preservative in black currant flavors, cheese, desserts, flavored milk drinks, fish paste, food decorations and coatings, ice cream, imitation caviar, mustard, red fruit jams, sauces, sweets, soft drinks and wine.

Other Uses:

Brilliant black may also be used in medicines. Azo dyes are also frequently used in the textile industry.