Vegetable Carbon

INS No. 153
E 153
EINECS No. 231-153-3
CAS 7440-44-0
Vegetable black
Activated vegetable carbon

Physical Description
As the name suggests, Vegetable Carbon is made from fine particles of carbonized vegetable material. Carbon Black powder is very fine and produces a lot of dust causing cleaning problems. Color shades range from grey to black, depending on the dosage rate used.

Vegetable carbon is rarely used alone in food because it provides an intense black color that is suitable only for particular varieties of confectionery, ices or desserts. However, it can be used as a shading agent with other colors, providing increased color intensity.

Common Uses
Typical applications include confectionery, bakery products, decorations, cheese coating, black caviar substitute, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals.

EU defined in Commission Regulation (EU) No 23/2012

Codex GSFA Provisions
There are no proposed or adopted provisions for vegetable carbon in the General Standard of Food Additives.

Regulatory Approvals/Consumption Limits
JECFA: No ADI allocated (1987)
USA: Not allowed for use in food.
EU: No ADI allocated (EFSA, 2012). Maximum permitted levels (MPLs) of vegetable carbon have been defined in Directive 94/36/EC on colors for use in foodstuffs.

Safety Reviews
EFSA Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources added to Food (ANS); Scientific Opinion on the re-evaluation of vegetable carbon (E 153) as a food additive. EFSA Journal 2012;10(4):2592. [34 pp.] Available online.

JECFA (1987). Evaluation of certain food additives and contaminants. Thirty -first report of the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives. Technical Report Series No. 759. Available online.

Full safety monograph available to IACM members or upon request.