Food colouring

This article on food colouring on the BBC website is interesting for the fact that some colourings allowed in the UK are banned elsewhere, but the most bemusing thing is that so many colours come from coal. I’d always thought coal was black, but apparently not:

  • TARTRAZINE (E102): A yellow food colouring made from coal tar.
  • BRILLIANT BLUE FCF (E133): A blue colouring made from coal tar
  • BRILLIANT BLACK BN (E151): Another coal tar derivative to give a black colouring. (Okay, this one makes sense.)
  • BROWN HT (E155): A brown, coal-derived colouring. Dark brown/black – close enough to coal to believe this one
  • GREEN S (E142): What is it? Green colouring from coal

Where does all this yellow, blue and green coal come from? Why are we not having more interesting fires?

BBC NEWS | Magazine | Colour by numbers