What Are All Those Numbers In Food?


Food additives by code number


100 Turmeric or curcumin, yellow (concentrated natural colours can be high in salicylates, amines or glutamates – CAUTION)

101 Riboflavin, lactoflavin, vitamin B2, yellow (failsafe)

102 AVOID Tartrazine, yellow #5 artificial

103 Alkanet, pink (concentrated natural colours can be high in salicylates, amines or glutamates – CAUTION)

104 AVOID Quinoline yellow artificial

110 AVOID Sunset yellow artificial

120 Cochineal or carmines, red (from beetles, can cause true allergy – CAUTION)

122 AVOID Azorubine, carmoisine artificial

123 AVOID Amaranth artificial

124 AVOID Ponceau 4R, brilliant scarlet artificial

127 AVOID Erythrosine artificial

129 AVOID Allura red artificial

132 AVOID Indigotine, indigo carmine artificial

133 AVOID Brilliant blue artificial

140 Chlorophyll (concentrated natural colours can be high in salicylates, amines or glutamates – CAUTION)

141 Chlorophyll-copper (concentrated natural colours can be high in salicylates, amines or glutamates – CAUTION)

142 AVOID Food green S, acid brilliant green artificial

143 AVOID Fast green FCF artificial

150a Caramel I

150b Caramel II

150c Caramel III

150d Caramel IV

151 AVOID Brilliant black BN artificial

153 Carbon black, vegetable carbon

155 AVOID Brown HT, chocolate brown artificial

160a Beta-carotene (failsafe)

160b AVOID Annatto extracts, bixin, norbixin

160c Paprika oleoresins (concentrated natural colours can be high in salicylates, amines or glutamates – CAUTION)

160d Lycopene (concentrated natural colours can be high in salicylates, amines or glutamates – CAUTION)

160e beta-apo-8’ Carotenal (concentrated natural colours can be high in salicylates, amines or glutamates – CAUTION)

160f E-apo-8’ Carotenoic acid (concentrated natural colours can be high in salicylates, amines or glutamates – CAUTION)

161a Flavoxanthin (concentrated natural colours can be high in salicylates, amines or glutamates – CAUTION)

161b Lutein (concentrated natural colours can be high in salicylates, amines or glutamates – CAUTION)

161c Kryptoxanthin (concentrated natural colours can be high in salicylates, amines or glutamates – CAUTION)

161d Rubixanthin (concentrated natural colours can be high in salicylates, amines or glutamates – CAUTION)

161e Violoxanthin (concentrated natural colours can be high in salicylates, amines or glutamates – CAUTION)

161f Rhodoxanthin (concentrated natural colours can be high in salicylates, amines or glutamates – CAUTION)

162 Beet red (may contain sodium nitrate – preservative 251- up to 25 mg/kg – CAUTION)

163 Anthocyanins, red, blue, violet (concentrated natural colours can be high in salicylates, amines or glutamates – CAUTION)

164 Saffron, crocetin, crocin (failsafe colour from saffron plant but commercial saffron may be mixed with artificial colour 102 – CAUTION)

170 Calcium carbonate, mineral colour and calcium supplement (failsafe)

171 Titanium dioxide, mineral colour, white (failsafe)

172 Iron oxide, red, black, yellow mineral colours (failsafe)

173 Aluminium, mineral colour

174 Silver, mineral colour

175 Gold, mineral colour

181 Tannic acid, brown (concentrated natural colours can be high in salicylates, amines or glutamates – CAUTION)

Preservatives – sorbates

200 AVOID Sorbic acid

201 AVOID Sodium sorbate

202 AVOID Potassium sorbate

203 AVOID Calcium sorbate

Preservatives – benzoates

210 AVOID Benzoic acid

211 AVOID Sodium benzoate

212 AVOID Potassium benzoate

213 AVOID Calcium benzoate

Sorbates and benzoates have been associated with the full range of food intolerance reactions.

216 Propylparaben

218 Methylparaben

Preservatives 216 and 218 are only permitted in food colours in Australia.

Preservatives – sulphites (aka sulfites)

220 AVOID Sulphur dioxide

221 AVOID Sodium sulphite

222 AVOID Sodium bisulphite

223 AVOID Sodium metabisulphite

224 AVOID Potassium metabisulphite

225 AVOID Potassium sulphite

228 AVOID Potassium bisulphite

Sulphites (above) are the biggies for asthmatics. Not to be confused with sulphates (514-519). Also known as sulfites.

234 Nisin

235 Natamycin

242 Dimethyl dicarbonate (new, untested)

Preservatives – nitrates and nitrites (also colour fixatives)

249 AVOID Potassium nitrite

250 AVOID Sodium nitrite

251 AVOID Sodium nitrate

252 AVOID Potassium nitrate

Unlike many food additives, nitrates and nitrites are necessary. Used in processed meats, they prevent bacterial growth and food poisoning, but they are not failsafe.

Food acids

260 Acetic acid

261 Potassium acetate

262 Sodium diacetate

262 Sodium acetate

263 Sodium acetate

264 Ammonium acetate

270 Lactic acid

Preservatives – propionates

280 AVOID Propionic acid

281 AVOID Sodium propionate

282 AVOID Calcium propionate

283 AVOID Potassium propionate

Widespread use in bread in Australia and the US, propionates are rarely used in Europe. Recently permitted also in cheese, fruit and vegetable products in Australia.

290 Carbon dioxide (propellant)

296 Malic acid (food acid)

297 Fumaric acid (food acid)


300 Ascorbic acid (vitamin C)

301 Sodium ascorbate

302 Calcium ascorbate

303 Potassium ascorbate

304 Ascorbyl palmitate

306 Mixed tocopherols (vitamin E)

307 dl-a-Tocopherol

308 g-Tocopherol

309 d-Tocopherol

310 AVOID Propyl gallate

311 AVOID Octyl gallate

312 AVOID Dodecyl gallate

315 Erythorbic acid

316 Sodium erythorbate

319 AVOID tert-Butylhydroquinone, tBHQ

320 AVOID Butylated hydroxyanisole, BHA

321 AVOID Butylated hydroxytoluene, BHT

322 Lecithin (also an emulsifier)

Gallates and TBHQ, BHA and BHT are used to preserve vegetable oils and margarines. When vegetable oils are used in other products, these antioxidants are often unlisted because of the 5% labelling loophole. BHA and BHT can also leach into products from cereal wrappers and clingfilm. Antioxidants 300-309 are safe alternatives.

More food acids

325 Sodium lactate

326 Potassium lactate

327 Calcium lactate

328 Ammonium lactate

329 Magnesium lactate

330 Citric acid

331 Sodium dihydrogen citrate

331 Sodium citrate

331 Sodium acid citrate

332 Potassium citrates

333 Calcium citrate

334 Tartaric acid

335 Sodium tartrate

336 Potassium tartrate

336 Potassium acid tartrate

337 Potassium sodium tartrate

338 Phosphoric acid

Food acids are safe for most people. Most failsafers can manage citric acid (330), a few react.

Mineral salts

339 Sodium phosphates

340 Potassium phosphates

341 Calcium phosphates

342 Ammonium phosphates

343 Magnesium phosphates

More food acids

349 Ammonium malate

350 DL-Sodium malates

351 Potassium malate

352 DL-Calcium malate

353 Metatartaric acid

354 Calcium tartrate

355 Adipic acid

357 Potassium adipate

365 Sodium fumarate

366 Potassium fumarate

367 Potassium fumarate

368 Ammonium fumarate

375 Nicotinic acid, niacin (B vitamin)

380 Triammonium citrate

380 Ammonium citrate

381 Ferric ammonium citrate

385 Calcium disodium EDTA

Vegetables gums and thickeners

400 Alginic acid

401 Sodium alginate

402 Potassium alginate

403 Ammonium alginate

404 Calcium alginate

405 Propylene glycol alginate

406 Agar agar, isinglass

407 AVOID Carrageenan

Vegetable gums are failsafe. Guar and xanthan are used extensively by coeliacs. Carrageenan (407) used in yoghurts, icecreams and others has been linked to cancer and is not recommended in large quantities for young children.

407a Processed eucheuma seaweed

409 Arabinogalactan

410 Locust bean gum

412 Guar gum

413 Tragacanth

414 Acacia

415 Xanthan gum

416 Karaya gum

418 Gellan gum


420 Sorbitol

421 Mannitol

422 Glycerin (glycerol)

Humectants keep food moist. These additives are also used as sweeteners. The first two are not permitted in foods for babies and young children. Glycerin is used as a humectant in marshmallows and other sweets. All can cause nausea or diarrhea in large amounts or sensitive people.


433 Polysorbate 80

435 Polysorbate 60

436 Polysorbate 65

440 Pectin (also a vegetable gum)

442 Ammonium salts of phosphatidic acid

444 Sucrose acetate isobutyrate

More mineral salts

450 Sodium pyrophosphate

450 Sodium acid pyrophosphate

450 Potassium pyrophosphate

451 Sodium tripolyphosphate

451 Potassium tripolyphosphate

452 Sodium polyphosphates, glassy

452 Sodium metaphosphate, insoluble

452 Potassium polymetaphosphate

460 Cellulose microcrystalline and powdered (anti-caking agent)

Thickeners, vegetable gums

461 Methylcellulose

464 Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose

465 Methyl ethyl cellulose

466 Sodium carboxymethylcellulose


470 Magnesium stearate (emulsifier, stabiliser)

471 Mono- and di-glycerides of fatty acids

472a Acetic and fatty acid esters of glycerol

472b Lactic and fatty acid esters of glycerol

472c Citric and fatty acid esters of glycerol

472d Tartaric and fatty acid esters of glycerol

472e Diacetyltartaric and fatty acid esters of glycerol

473 Sucrose esters of fatty acids

475 Polyglycerol esters of fatty acids

476 Polyglycerol esters of interesterified ricinoleic acid

477 Propylene glycol mono- and di-esters

480 Dioctyl sodium sulphosuccinate

481 Sodium stearoyl (or oleyl) lactylate

482 Calcium stearoyl (or oleyl) lactylate

491 Sorbitan monostearate

492 Sorbitan tristearate

Mineral salts

500 Sodium carbonate

500 Sodium bicarbonate

501 Potassium carbonates

503 Ammonium carbonate

503 Ammonium bicarbonate

504 Magnesium carbonate (anti-caking agent, mineral salt)

507 Hydrochloric acid (acidity regulator)

508 Potassium chloride

509 Calcium chloride

510 Ammonium chloride

511 Magnesium chloride

512 Stannous chloride (colour retention agent)

514 Sodium sulphate (mineral salt)

515 Potassium sulphate (mineral salt)

516 Calcium sulphate (flour treatment agent, mineral salt)

518 Magnesium sulphate (mineral salt)

519 Cupric sulphate (mineral salt)

526 Calcium hydroxide (mineral salt)

529 Calcium oxide (mineral salt)

535 Sodium ferrocyanide (anti-caking agent)

536 Potassium ferrocyanide (anti-caking agent)

541 Sodium aluminium phosphate, acidic (acidity regulator, emulsifier)

542 Bone phosphate (anti-caking agent)

551 Silicon dioxide (anti-caking agent)

552 Calcium silicate (anti-caking agent)

553 Talc (anti-caking agent)

554 Sodium aluminosilicate (anti-caking agent)

556 Calcium aluminium silicate (anti-caking agent)

558 Bentonite (anti-caking agent)

559 Kaolin (anti-caking agent)

570 Stearic acid (anti-caking agent)

575 Gluconod-lactone (acidity regulator)

577 Potassium gluconate (stabiliser)

578 Calcium gluconate (acidity regulator)

579 Ferrous gluconate (colour retention agent)

Flavour enhancers

620 AVOID L-Glutamic acid

621 AVOID Monosodium L-glutamate (MSG)

622 AVOID Monopotassium L-glutamate

623 AVOID Calcium di-L-glutamate

624 AVOID Monoammonium L-glutamate

625 AVOID Magnesium di-L-glutamate

627 AVOID Disodium guanylate

631 AVOID Disodium inosinate

635 AVOID Disodium 5’-ribonucleotides

The adverse effects of MSG (621) are well documented. We have also received many reports of skin rashes associated with new additive 635 which is a combination of 627 and 631. Yeast extract, hydrolysed vegetable protein (HVP) and hydrolysed plant protein (HPP) are ways that manufacturers include MSG without having to declare it on the label.

636 Maltol

637 Ethyl maltol

640 Glycine

641 L-Leucine

Miscellaneous additives

900 Dimethylpolysiloxane (emulsifier, antifoaming agent, anti- caking agent)

901 Beeswax, white and yellow (glazing agent)

903 Carnauba wax (glazing agent)

904 Shellac, bleached (glazing agent)

905a Mineral oil, white (glazing agent)

905b Petrolatum (glazing agent)

914 Oxidised polyethylene (Humectant)

920 L-Cysteine monohydrochloride (flour treatment agent)

925 Chlorine (flour treatment agent)

926 Chlorine dioxide (flour treatment agent)

928 Benzoyl peroxide (flour treatment agent)

941 Nitrogen (propellant)

942 Nitrous oxide (propellant)

Artificial sweeteners

950 Acesulphame potassium (artificial sweetening substance)

951 AVOID Aspartame (Nutrasweet, Equal) (artificial sweetening substance)The safety of aspartame with regard to brain tumours and others is not proven. Aspartame in diet", “lite” and “no added sugar” products may increase appetite thus failing to assist weight loss. There are reports of addiction. Not recommended. Sugar is a natural alternative. Artificial sweeteners in general are unnecessary, artificial and not recommended.

952 Sodium cyclamate (artificial sweetening substance)

952 Cyclamic acid (artificial sweetening substance)

952 Calcium cyclamate (artificial sweetening substance)

953 Isomalt (humectant)

954 Sodium saccharin (artificial sweetening substance)

954 Saccharin (artificial sweetening substance)

954 Calcium saccharin (artificial sweetening substance)

955 Sucralose (artificial sweetening substance)

956 Alitame (artificial sweetening substance)

957 Thaumatin (flavour enhancer, sweetening substance)

965 Maltitol and maltitol syrup (humectant, stabiliser)

966 Lactitol (humectant)

967 Xylitol (humectant, stabiliser)

1001 Choline salts and esters (emulsifier)

1100 Amylases (flour treatment agent)

1101 Proteases (papain, bromelain, ficin) (flour treatment agent, stabiliser, flavour enhancer)

1102 Glucose oxidase (antioxidant)

1104 Lipases (flavour enchancer)

1105 Lysozyme (preservative) from eggs

1200 Polydextrose (Humectant)

1201 Polyvinylpyrrolidone (stabiliser, clarifying agent, dispersing agent)

1202 Polyvinylpolypyrrolidone (colour stabiliser)

Thickeners, vegetable gums

1400 Dextrin roasted starch

1401 Acid treated starch

1402 Alkaline treated starch

1403 Bleached starch

1404 Oxidised starch

1405 Enzyme-treated starches

1410 Monostarch phosphate

1412 Distarch phosphate

1413 Phosphated distarch phosphate

1414 Acetylated distarch phosphate

1420 Starch acetate esterified with acetic anhydride

1421 Starch acetate esterified with vinyl acetate

1422 Acetylated distarch adipate

1440 Hydroxypropyl starch

1442 Hydroxypropyl distarch phosphate

1450 Starch sodium octenylsuccinate

1505 Triethyl citrate

1518 Triacetin (humectant)

1520 Propylene glycol (humectant)

1521 Polyethylene glycol 8000 (antifoaming agent)





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