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Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 19, 2024.

Excipient (pharmacologically inactive substance)

What is it?

Colorants or coloring agents are used in the processing of food, drugs and cosmetics and are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ensure safety. A color additive is any dye, pigment or substance which when added to a food, drug or cosmetic, or to the human body will impart a color. FDA is responsible for regulating all color additives to ensure that foods containing color additives are safe to eat, contain only approved ingredients and are accurately labeled.

Color additives are used in foods for many reasons: to offset color loss due to light, air, temperatures, moisture or storage conditions; to correct natural variations in color; to enhance natural colors; to provide color to foods. Color additives are now recognized as an important part of most processed food.[1]


  1. Food Ingredients and Colors. International Food Information Council (IFIC) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Revised April 2010. Accessed August 20, 2012.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.