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E172 is a food additive approved by the European Union (EU). It is used as a natural colouring agent in food and drink products.

The common names for E172 include certain iron oxides and iron hydroxides.

E172 is a red/brown colouring that is available in three forms:

  • E172(i) - black iron oxide,
  • E172(ii) - red iron oxide, and
  • E172(iii) - yellow iron oxide.

The iron is not actively absorbed by body tissue. This colouring may act as an irritant when in dust form.

E172 is banned in Germany.

Examples of food and drink products that sometimes include E172:

  • salmon pastes
  • shrimp pastes
  • meat pastes
  • cake and dessert packets
  • soups

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