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E 160a | Food colouring
Possible application of gene technology Labelling
May be produced with the aid of micro-organisms no



Carotenes are naturally-occurring yellow pigments that may be found in many plants (e.g. carrots, paprika, tomatoes and cucumbers). Beta-carotene is transformed into vitamin A in the body and therefore also is known as pro-vitamin A.

There are three variants of carotene, of which in almost all cases only beta-carotene is used as a food colouring.


Beta-carotene is used in various products:

  • primarily for the colouring of butter (im winter), and in margarine, ice cream and desserts (for example, for the optical "support" of peach flavour)
  • as vitamin supplement

Beta-carotene is approved as a food colouring without maximum permissible quantities.

See also: carotenoids, ACE-products

Gene technology

Classically, beta-carotene is extracted from plants and, in particular, from carrots or red palm oil. Its production from (glucose) now is common.

Beta-carotene can be produced with the aid of genetically modified micro-organisms (Erwinia herbicola). Information on the extent of commercial applications of this process is almost entirely lacking. The bio-technical production of beta-carotene using algae also is possible, as is its chemical synthesis.

Labelling: additives that have been produced with the aid of genetically modified organisms in closed systems are not subject to labelling, provided that the additive has been purified and contains no micro-organisms.


November 30, 2005 [nach oben springen]

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