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Cell Mol Biol Lett. 2004;9(1):107-22.

The evaluation of the genotoxicity of two commonly used food colors: Quinoline Yellow (E 104) and Brilliant Black BN (E 151).

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  • 1Department of Cytogenetics and Plant Molecular Biology, University of Łódź, S. Banacha 12/16, 90-237 Łódź, Poland.


Additives, especially colors, are in widespread use in the food industry. With the exception of the quinolines, food colors are relatively weak mutagens and are certified as safe additives despite reports that some people have allergic reactions to them. The number of food additives is still on the increase, and research on their potential mutagenic/carcinogenic activity in vivo is very expensive. Using two different cellular model systems, human lymphocytes in vitro and Vicia faba root tip meristems of in vivo, we evaluated the potential cytological and genotoxic effects of two dyes: Quinoline Yellow (E 104) and Brilliant Black BN (E 151). Two relatively new, very sensitive and rapid tests - the micronucleus and Comet assays - were used in this study. The data provided in this paper showed the genotoxic effects of the two analyzed food colors, and confirmed the diagnostic value of the MN and Comet assays for screening potentially genotoxic substances.

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