Color Additive Laws, Regulations, and Guidance
FDA regulates color additives under the authority of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act.
Guidance for Industry
- WITHDRAWN - Draft Guidance for Industry: Fruit Juice and Vegetable Juice as Color Additives in Food (December 2016)
- Guidance for Industry: Colored Sea Salt (September 2015)
- Guidance for Industry: Assessing the Effects of Significant Manufacturing Process Changes, Including Emerging Technologies, on the Safety and Regulatory Status of Food Ingredients and Food Contact Substances, Including Food Ingredients that Are Color Additives (June 2014)
- Cochineal Extract and Carmine: Declaration by Name on the Label of All Foods and Cosmetic Products That Contain These Color Additives (April 2009)
- Color Additive Petitions - FDA Recommendations for Submission of Chemical and Technological Data on Color Additives for Food, Drugs, Cosmetics, or Medical Devices (January 1997; Revised July 2009)
- Preparing a Color Additive Petition for Submission to the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition for Color Additives Used in or on Contact Lenses (May 2006)
Regulations Related to Color Additives
FDA-regulated products must comply with the color additive regulations; otherwise they are adulterated and/or misbranded. Color additive violations are common reasons for warning letters and import detentions.
Color additives are required to be pre-approved by FDA and listed in the color additive regulations before they may be used in food, drugs, cosmetics, and medical devices. Each color additive is permitted only for the intended use stated in its listing regulation. Some are also subject to the FDA certification process.
Here are links to FDA’s color additive regulations and related resources.
Links to the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (eCFR)
21 CFR Part 70 - Color Additives - These regulations address general provisions for color additives, their packaging and labeling requirements, and the fees for filing a color additive petition to list a new color additive or a new use for a listed color additive.
21 CFR Part 71 - Color Additive Petitions - These regulations describe how to submit a color additive petition to FDA as well as the information FDA requires in order to evaluate the petition.
CFR Part 73 - Listing of Color Additives Exempt from Certification - These regulations list the FDA-approved color additives that are exempt from FDA’s certification process. The regulations state the permitted uses, specifications, and restrictions that apply to each of these color additives.
21 CFR Part 74 - Listing of Color Additives Subject to Certification - These regulations list the FDA-approved color additives that are subject to FDA’s certification process. The regulations state the permitted uses, specifications, and restrictions that apply to each of these color additives.
21 CFR Part 80 - Color Additive Certification - These regulations state the fees for color additive certification and describe the certification procedures and requirements.
21 CFR Part 81 - General Specifications and General Restrictions for Provisional Color Additives for Use in Foods, Drugs, and Cosmetics - These regulations include the provisional lists of color additives and the color additives whose provisional listings have been terminated.
21 CFR Part 82 - Listing of Certified Provisionally Listed Colors and Specifications - These regulations list the provisionally listed color additive lakes, which are subject to FDA’s certification process. The regulations state the permitted uses, specifications, and restrictions that apply to each of these color additives. (All color additives were provisionally listed in response to the 1960 color additive amendments to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Only lakes, which are insoluble pigments formed from color additives listed in 21 CFR part 74, remain provisionally listed.)
- Color Additives - FDA's Regulatory Process and Historical Perspectives: An article on FDA’s regulation of color additives
- Color Additive Petitions: Resources for submitting a color additive petition
- Color Certification: Resources on FDA’s color certification process
- Color Additive Inventories: Quick-reference tables with important regulatory information
- Color Additives in Specific Products: Resources on using color additives in food, drugs, cosmetics, and medical devices