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Qualitative determination of carbon black in food products

Miranda-Bermudez, E., Belai, N., Harp, B. Petigara, Yakes, B.J., Barrows, J.N.
Food additives & contaminants 2012 v.29 no.1 pp. 38-42
European Union, Food and Drug Administration, Raman spectroscopy, carbon, color, combustion, cosmetics, detection limit, food coloring, foods, hydrocarbons, hydrochloric acid, imports, iron oxides, nitric acid, raw materials, vegetables, United States
Carbon black (C.I. 77266) is an insoluble pigment produced by the partial combustion of hydrocarbons. The pigment is known by several synonyms, including vegetable carbon, lamp black and carbon ash, that correspond to the raw materials and methods used for its production. Vegetable carbon (E153) is permitted for use in colouring food in the European Union. The US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) has not approved the use of any type of carbon black for colouring food, although the agency batch certifies the pigment as D&C Black No. 2 for use in colouring certain cosmetics. Since carbon black (as vegetable carbon) may be present in food products offered for import into the United States, the USFDA's district laboratories need a qualitative analytical method for determining its presence. We have developed an extraction method for this purpose. A sample is broken down and dissolved with nitric acid. The resulting solution is filtered and treated with hydrochloric acid to dissolve any black iron oxide also present as a colour additive. A black residue remaining on the filter paper indicates the presence of carbon black in the food. We confirmed the presence of carbon black in residues from several standards and food products using Raman spectroscopy. The limit of detection for this method is 0.0001%.