Food Dye Analysis and Testing

Analyzing dyes in foods is particularly difficult because these food samples are inherently complex, and analysis of low-levels of dye compounds is challenging.

Food dye, often referred to as color additives, is commonly found in many of the foods we eat, for a variety of reasons, like enhancing color and making products more fun and appetizing. While many color additives are generally recognized as safe or GRAS, studies have identified possible links between the consumption of foods containing dyes to increased hyperactivity in children. Despite that, there is still a lack of an accepted food safety compliance standard.

For example, American regulations permit children are allowed fruit juice beverages to contain Red Dye No. 40 and macaroni and cheese colored with Yellow Dye No. 5 and No. 6. However, contrasting regulations in the UK stipulate that these artificial colorings are banned, while the rest of Europe mandate label warnings of the food dye’s potential health repercussions. Similarly, concentrated chemical dye limits in food products can also differ from country to country. Dyes, such as azo-dyes, are banned as food additives and are highly regulated, others are simply chemicals of concern, which should be continually monitored.

Color additives are now even more strictly monitored and regulated by government agencies. Therefore, it’s up to labs to routinely employ effective sensitivity analysis techniques to trace dyes in food samples. Yet, given that food samples are inherently complex, analyzing low levels of dye compounds in food samples is still a tricky business.

Hi−Resolution LC−MS/MS: Quantify Low Levels of Dyes in Complex Samples
Mass spectrometry is an excellent solution for food dye analysis because:

  • The sensitivity of the instrument enables added sample dilution to remove matrix interferences
  • The workflow lends itself to the analysis of many dyes in a single run

These are significant traits that enable LC-MS/MS systems to deliver accurate, rapid quantification of both targeted/non-targeted chemical dyes present in food samples.

Download Free Hi−Resolution LC−MS/MS Method

Accurately Detect Chemical Dye in Your Food

X500R QTOF System

Easy to use accurate mass spectrometer system that analyzes data faster; leveraging on the power of SWATH® Acquisition.


The all-in-one software that lets you acquire, process, analyze data and even generate reports.

QTRAP® System

Combine MRM sensitivity of a triple quad to get you even better identification, characterization and quantitation.


Additional Resources  
Quantitation and Identification of 13 Azo-dyes in Spices using LC-MS/MS Download
A Rapid iMethod™ Test for the Quantification of Azo-Dyes in Food Download
LC-MS/MS Analysis of Emerging Food Contaminants Identification of Artificial Colors and Dyes in Food Samples using LC-HR-MS/MS Download