E124 – Ponceau 4R, Cochineal red A

Other names for the additive (synonyms)

Ponceau 4R, E 124, Cochineal red A, E-124

​General Information

Ponceau 4R (E124 food additive), is a colorant of synthetic origin, which has a crimson color. The E124 colorant opens the whole palette of tints: when yellow (E102, E104) or orange (E110) colorants are added, the brown color is obtained, and when it is mixed with a blue Ponceau 4R colorant gives purple color.

By its chemical composition E124 colorant is sodium salt: granulate or powder of red color perfectly soluble in water. The chemical formula of the E124 colorant: C20H11N2Na3O10S3. The E124 additive is thermostable, resistant to the effects of light, reducing agents and oxidants Products processed by Ponceau 4R can be subjected to any technological operations (sterilization, pasteurization, cooling, freezing, etc.).

Influence on the body


In the United States, Finland, Norway and some other countries, E124 (Ponceau 4R) is included in the list of banned substances as a carcinogen which can provoke cancer. Besides, the E124 additive is a strong allergen which can cause anaphylactic shock or asphyxiation attack in asthmatics and people with aspirin intolerance.

The E124 food additive is included in the list of food colorings that increase children’s hyperactivity. The details of this research have been previously reported on our website.


Due to its synthetic origin,  the E124 additive is not characteristic of living organisms. There is no scientific evidence of any benefits of the Ponceau 4R colorant at the moment.


Ponceau 4R (E124 additive) is widely used (alone or in combination with other colorants) in the coloring of products in the confectionery industry, beverage production, ice cream, pudding, desserts and canned fruits. The E124 additive is used in the production of fish and meat products, dairy desserts, cakes and curd products.

Other uses of the E124(Ponceau 4R) colorant:

  • In the production of liquid detergents (shampoos, liquid soap, bath foam and shower).
  • In the textile industry, used as a colorant for wool and silk.
  • In cosmetology for coloring products.


In September 2009, EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) adopted a resolution to reduce the allowable daily intake (ADI) of the E124 (Ponceau 4R) colorant from 4 mg to 0.7 mg to 1 kg of body weight per day.

In Russia,  the E124 is banned for coloring medicines, but it is allowed as an E124 food coloring for food products.

The E124 food additive is allowed for use in the food industry in Ukraine and Russia, as it does not harm the human body if the maximum permissible doses are observed.