E101 – Riboflavins

Other names for the additive (synonyms)

B2, E 101, Vitamin B2, Riboflavin, E-101

General Information

Riboflavin (E101 food additive) is one of the most important vitamins, which is a coenzyme of many biological processes. The E101 food additive is better known as vitamin B2. The chemical formula of riboflavin: C17H20N4O6. It dissolves poorly in water and alcohol. In compounds with acid, the E101 additive is stable, in an alkaline environment riboflavin is rapidly destroyed. From the physical point of view, riboflavins are needle crystals of yellow color, which have a bitter taste.

The discovery and study of B vitamins occurred in the 20-30s of the 20th century. Artificially riboflavin was synthesized in 1935. At the same time, it was given a name that comes from two words, "ribose" (sugar) and "flavin" (yellow paint). This name was given to it because its molecule consists of two substances such as ribose (hydrogen carbonate) and yellow pigment flavin, a natural pigment of vegetables, potatoes and milk.The  E101 food additive tolerates heating well but is destroyed by light, turning into inactive forms and losing its useful properties.

The E101 additive can be obtained by chemical synthesis from 3,4-dimethylaniline and ribose, as well as by microbiological method from the fungus Eremothecium gossypii or by genetically modified bacteria Bacillus subtilis.

The riboflavins are subdivided into 2 types of compounds:

  • E101i additive - clean Riboflavin
  • E101ii additive - Riboflavin 5'-phosphate sodium

Influence on the body


Vitamin B2 (E101 additive) is essential for the health of nails, hair, skin, as well as the thyroid gland. Riboflavin participates in the formation of antibodies, erythrocytes and regulation of human reproductive function. Due to the lack of vitamin B2 in the body may appear such diseases as angular stomatitis (the appearance of ulcers in the corners of the mouth), cheilosis (peeling and the formation of vertical cracks on the lips), glossitis (swelling and redness of the tongue), disorders of the visual organs and muscle weakness.

It is important to consume products containing vitamin B2 constantly because this vitamin can not accumulate in the body and is excreted with urine when overabundant.


The E101 food additive has almost no toxicity, even with excessive consumption of products with its content, as riboflavin is poorly dissolving in water and, consequently, poorly absorbed by the intestines. Only artificially produced riboflavin may pose a minimal risk due to the probability of synthetic by-products entering its composition.


In the food industry, the E101 is used as a yellow food coloring. Also, the E101 food additive is added to foodstuffs with the purpose of their enrichment with vitamin B2.

The most frequent additive E101 is included in children's porridge, bread, peanut butter and dry breakfasts. In nature, riboflavin prevails in protein products of animal origin, such as meat, milk, liver, poultry, fish and eggs. It is also found in some vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach, white cabbage, buckwheat, and others.

In addition to the food industry, riboflavin is used in medicine as a vitamin to compensate for vitamin B2 deficiency in the body.


The E101 food additive is considered safe and even useful for feating. The E101 colorant is approved for use in food products in Russia, Ukraine and many other countries.