Is E123 Halal or Haram? Amaranth Facts

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Have you ever come across E123 Amaranth in your food’s ingredient list and wondered about its origins, safety, or even if it’s halal? Let’s unravel these questions and more in our comprehensive guide.

Key Takeaways

📌 E123, or Amaranth, is a synthetic food and cosmetic colorant known for its vibrant red hue.
📌 It’s not derived from the Amaranthus plant, despite its name. Modern production involves chemical synthesis.
📌 E123 is generally considered halal, as it doesn’t contain animal-derived ingredients and is synthetically produced.

What Is E123?

E123, affectionately known as Amaranth, boasts a rich history, tracing its roots back to the Amaranthus plant. Today, while we craft it through modern chemical synthesis, its allure remains undiminished.

So, what makes it a darling of the food and cosmetics worlds? It’s simple. Amaranth’s vivacious hue is not only eye-catching but also remarkably steadfast.

This reliability in retaining its shade, amidst various conditions, propels it to be a go-to choice for manufacturers aiming to inject a burst of color into their products. Quite the colorful tale, isn’t it?

Chemical Structure

E123 Amaranth is classified under the azo dyes category. Its chemical formula is C20H11N2Na3O10S3. Structurally, it contains two aromatic rings linked together by a N=N (azo group) bond. This azo group is primarily responsible for its vivid coloring effect. Intrigued about its formation? The synthesis involves coupling diazonium salt with naphthionic acid.

e123 amaranth chemical structure

What is E123 Made Of?

Contrary to what its name might suggest, it’s not derived from the Amaranthus plant. The name is more of a historical nod, as the plant once served as a source of red dye. Today, the production of Amaranth is entirely chemical.

The manufacture of Amaranth involves a series of chemical reactions. Typically, the process begins with the diazotization of aromatic amines, followed by a coupling reaction with naphthionic acid. The resultant compound undergoes further reactions, including sulfonation, to produce the final Amaranth dye.

Possible Side Effects

E123 has been subject to extensive safety assessments. While generally considered safe for most people, some individuals may experience certain side effects:

  1. Allergic Reactions: Allergies to E123 are rare but possible. Allergic responses can manifest as skin rashes, hives, or nasal congestion. People with a history of allergies should be cautious.
  2. Gastrointestinal Distress: In very isolated cases, consumption of products containing E123 may lead to mild digestive issues like nausea or stomach discomfort. These effects are typically minor and temporary.
  3. Hyperactivity (especially in children): There have been concerns and studies suggesting a potential association between the consumption of certain artificial food colorants, including E123, and increased hyperactivity in children. However, the evidence remains inconclusive, and the link is not well-established. It’s worth noting that not all children are affected in the same way, and sensitivities can vary.

Dosage and Administration

The recommended dosage varies based on the region and the specific application. For instance, in the United States, the acceptable daily intake (ADI) is up to 0.5 mg/kg of body weight. Curious about how to interpret this? For an adult weighing 70 kg, this translates to an ADI of up to 35 mg of E123.

Is E123 Halal or Haram?

A pressing question for many is the halal status of E123. As E123 Amaranth is synthetically produced without the use of animal products, many Islamic scholars classify it as halal (permissible).

Find out more:
Is E122 Halal or Haram?
Is E124 Halal or Haram?


The prevailing jurisprudential principle followed by most scholars is that “the default status of any matter is permissible.” This means that if something lacks a definitive ruling in Sharia texts regarding its lawful or unlawful status, it is considered legally mubah / halal / permissible.

Among the proofs are the words of Allah Ta’ala:

Final Words

Despite its name, it’s not derived from the Amaranthus plant but is chemically synthesized. It’s generally safe, but rare allergic reactions or minor stomach discomfort can occur in some individuals.

While concerns about its potential impact on hyperactivity, especially in children, exist, they are not conclusively proven. E123 is typically considered halal, making it permissible in Islamic dietary guidelines, as it is synthetic and not of animal origin.

Allahu A’lam (Allahu Knows Best)


Is E123 safe for consumption?

Generally, E123 is considered safe within regulated limits. However, individual reactions may vary.

What foods contain E123?

E123 is often found in confectionery, jellies, and sometimes in beverages.

What is the CAS number of E123 amaranth?

The CAS (Chemical Abstracts Service) number for E123 Amaranth is 915-67-3.

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