Notice of Health Canada's Proposal to Modify the Currently Permitted Uses of the Colouring Agent Amaranth in Various Foods - Reference Number: NOP/AVP-0023

January 04, 2017


Health Canada has conducted a re-evaluation of the approved food additive uses of the colouring agent amaranth, which is currently permitted at a maximum level of use of 300 parts per million (p.p.m.), singly or in combination with other specified synthetic colours. The re-evaluation was conducted in support of a broader review of fifty-two azo acid dyes carried out as part of the Government of Canada’s Chemicals Management Plan.

The results of Health Canada’s re-evaluation of available data on the concentrations of amaranth actually used in foods sold in Canada reveal that exposure to amaranth is within acceptable levels from a food safety perspective. However, the existing maximum levels of use for amaranth that appear in the List of Permitted Colouring Agents are generally higher than actual use levels and would allow for elevated exposures if actual use levels ever increased. In order to ensure that potential exposure to the food colouring agent amaranth remains within acceptable levels, it is the intention of Health Canada to modify the List of Permitted Colouring Agents by creating a unique listing for “Amaranth” (it is currently grouped in the List with five other synthetic colours) and by identifying maximum levels of use and other conditions that align with actual current uses.

As a result of this assessment, it is the intention of Health Canada to modify the List of Permitted Colouring Agents as described in the information document. The purpose of this communication is to publically announce the Department's intention in this regard and to provide the appropriate contact information for any inquiries or for those wishing to submit any new scientific information relevant to the safety of this food additive.

Information Document

Contact Information

Health Canada's Food Directorate is committed to reviewing any new scientific information on the safety in use of any food additive, including amaranth. Anyone wishing to submit new scientific information on the use of this food additive or to submit any inquiries may do so in writing, by regular mail or electronically. If you wish to contact the Food Directorate electronically, please use the word “amaranth” in the subject line of your e-mail. Health Canada is able to consider information received by March 18, 2017, 75 days from the date of this posting.

Bureau of Chemical Safety, Food Directorate
251 Sir Frederick Banting Driveway
Tunney's Pasture, PL: 2202C
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0L2

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