E129 – Allura Red AC

Other names for the additive (synonyms)

E 129, Allura Red AC, E-129

General Information

The red charming AC (E129 food additive) is a dark red powder, originally obtained from coal tar. At present, E129 colorant is produced mainly from refined petroleum products.

The synthetic E129 colorant is well soluble in water, used as the sodium salt, less common as calcium or potassium salts. Originally, the E129 colorant was used in the USA as a substitute for the harmful E123 (Amarant) food coloring.

The chemical formula of the E129 additive: C18H14N2Na2O8S2.

Influence on the body


At the moment, the E129 additive is considered to be one of the safest azo colorants. It poses few risks to human health but is categorically unacceptable for consumption by people who are sensitive to aspirin. The E129 colorant can sometimes cause attention deficit syndrome and increased hyperactivity in children. The carcinogenic properties of the E129 additive (the ability to cause cancer) were previously suspected, but studies have shown that products with the  E129 colorant pose no carcinogenic threat. The suspected carcinogenic effect is related to the technology of the production of the E129 additive. In chemical reactions to produce the Red Charming AC colorant is used para-Cresidine, a substance that is a carcinogen. However, no traces of para-Cresidine were found in the final product.


Studies conducted by the Linus Pauling Institute of the University of Oregon, Oregon, on the contrary, showed the anticarcinogenic effect of the E129 additive.

Studies have been conducted on rainbow trout. This species of fish is often used for studies of cancer.

Carcinogen benzopyrene and the E129 colorant were added to fish food. After 9 months, the fish that were fed with a mixture of benzopyrene and Red charming AC, 40% fewer liver tumors and 2 times less stomach cancer was observed.


In the food industry, the E129 food additive is used in the production of semi-finished products, cakes and biscuits, in mixtures for jelly and breakfast cereal, in beverages and other products.

Other uses of the Red charming AC colorant:

  • In the cosmetics industry, for the production of lipstick, blush and other cosmetics.
  • In the pharmaceutical industry, as a dye in the manufacture of some drugs.


The E129 food additive is banned for the food industry in nine countries in Europe and some other countries but is allowed for the food industry in Russia and Ukraine.