Annatto (Derived from the seeds of the achiote tree), also called roucou, is a natural plant extract used to dye an assortment of foods, textiles, and body care products. Primarily, it is used as red / orange in a wide assortment of foods. The food additive number for it is E160b, allowing consumers to identify it on a label even when it is not listed by name.

Found in :

  • Goldfish Crackers
  • Yellow cheeses: American, Cheddar, and Velveeta
  • Cereals
  • Commercial dressings
  • Light-colored ice creams
  • Some capsule medications and vitamins and minerals
  • Sugar-free Jell-O
  • Pam with butter
  • Cooked/roasted or barbecue chicken at grocery stores
  • Butter (check labels)
  • Some powdered donuts

Annatto 160b is a natural colour that can affect some children and adults even worse than artificial colours. It has also been associated with rare allergic reactions. Annatto has been reported to cause far worse behavioral and emotional side effects than the numbered food dyes cause and the effect lasts days longer. Annatto is also a common cause of IBS symptoms and due to its relation to tree nuts it can also cause allergic reactions.

A case study published in the Annals of Allergy reported on a patient who suffered from symptoms like hives, swelling and low blood pressure just 20 minutes after eating a type of cereal that contained annatto dye.

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DISCLAIMER: The information contained herein should NOT be used as a substitute for the advice of an appropriately qualified and licensed physician or other health care provider. The information provided here is for informational purposes only. This post may not cover all possible drug interactions or all FDA / WHO warnings or alerts. Please check with a physician if you have health questions or concerns about interactions or go to the FDA / WHO for a comprehensive list of  warnings. Although we attempt to provide accurate and up-to-date information, no guarantee is made to that effect.

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