INTERNATIONAL PROGRAMME ON CHEMICAL SAFETY
WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION
TOXICOLOGICAL EVALUATION OF SOME
FOOD COLOURS, ENZYMES, FLAVOUR
ENHANCERS, THICKENING AGENTS, AND
CERTAIN FOOD ADDITIVES
WHO FOOD ADDITIVES SERIES 6
The evaluations contained in this publication were prepared by the
Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives which met in Rome,
4-13 June 19741
World Health Organization Geneva 1975
1 Eighteenth Report of the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on
Food Additives, Wld Hlth Org. techn. Rep. Ser., 1974, No. 557.
FAO Nutrition Meetings Report Series, 1974, No. 54.
This compound has been evaluated for acceptable daily intake by
the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (see Annex I,
Ref. No. 10) in 1966.
Since the previous evaluation no additional data have become
available. The previously published monograph has been reproduced in
its entirety below.
Canthaxanthine does not exhibit provitamin A activity (Anonymous,
Animal Route mg/kg bw Reference
Mouse Oral 10 000 Anonymous, 1966
Groups of three male and three female dogs received 0, 100 and
400 mg/kg daily of canthaxanthine for 15 weeks. No significant effect
was noted on body weight of control or test groups or on their general
health (Anonymous, 1966).
* This substance was detected for the first time in an edible
mushroom, the chanterelle (Cantharellus cinnabarinus). It was
subsequently shown to be present in the plumage and organs of
flamingoes and various exotic birds such as the scarlet ibis
(Guara rubra) and the roscato spoonbill (Ajaja ajaja). It has
recently been detected in various crustacea and fish (trout, salmon)
(Haxo. 1950; Fox, 1962a and b; Thommen & Wackernagel, 1963).
A three-generation study using 0 ppm and 1000 ppm in the diet
revealed no adverse effect in any generation (Anonymous, 1966).
In another experiment, 25-30 male and 25-30 female rats received
0%, 0.5%, 2% and 5% canthaxanthine in their diet for 93-98 weeks. No
adverse effect was noted on food consumption and weight gain.
Mortality and tumour incidence were not increased (Anonymous, 1966).
This compound has been adequately tested in the rat and has no
provitamin A activity. Evaluation is therefore based on the
toxicological information provided.
Level causing no toxicological effect
Rat: 5% (= 50 000 ppm) in the diet equivalent to 2500 mg/kg bw
Estimate of acceptable daily intake for man
0-25 mg/kg bw.
Anonymous (1966) Hoffmann-La Roche, Unpublished report submitted to
Fox, D. L. (1962a) Comp. Biochem. Physiol., 6, 1
Fox, D. L. (1962b) Comp. Biochem. Physiol., 6, 305
Haxo F. (1950) Botan. Gaz., 122, 228
Thommen, H. & Wackernagel, H. (1963) Biochem. Biophys. Acta., 69. 387