Blue colors study author clarifies position on lollipop risks

By Oliver Nieburg

- Last updated on GMT

Photo credit: Flickr - rkimpeljr
Photo credit: Flickr - rkimpeljr

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The author of a study on blue dyes in lollipops says that her paper focuses on the risk of systemic absorption in small quantities and not “human health risks”.

Her change in terminology comes after the International Association of Color Manufacturers (IACM) called the study “misleading”.

Study author Jarmila Hojerova previously told that the dyes in lollipops “pose some health risk” ​but today said she did not have the right to use such terminology.

The study was published  in February’s Food and Chemical Toxicology​ journal and said that Brilliant Blue (E133) and Patent Blue (E131), colors used in hard candies and lollipops, disrupted cell metabolism when entering the bloodstream after keeping lollipops containing the colors in the mouth for a long time. See HERE.

She had called on candy makers to stop using the colors in lollipops and hard candies because the products were in prolonged contact with the mucous membranes of the tongue.

But today she clarified her position. “Our research was not focused on the health risk of these blue colors, but on the risk of systemic absorption​.”

“There is not used an expression, ‘dyes are risk to human health’ in our original article published in Food and Chemical Toxicology.”

Adverse events

The study conclusion states: “…Both dyes have the potential to enter the bloodstream from the saliva through the dorsum of the tongue. This finding is troubling, particularly with regard to the repeated licking of lollipops by children.

“Taken together, the results suggest that due to possible adverse health effects of BB and PB for the people, both dyes should not be used in topical products, which are primarily intended for tongue and slightly damaged skin.”

In response to questions from ConfectioneryNews, Hojerova had previously said that the blue colors did pose a health risk.

She said that 34 ng/cm2 of Brilliant Blue and about 86 ng/cm2 of Patent Blue could be systemically absorbed through the dorsum of porcine tongue by licking on loliipops.

“Due to these results we consider that hard candies and lollipops containing BB, as well as PB pose some health risk especially when products are repeatedly licked by most vulnerable consumers – children,”​ she said previously.


The author sent a letter to the Editor-in-Chief of Food and Chemical Toxicology after Sarah A. Condrea, executive director of IACM, had written to the journal and claimed the blue dyes study was “misleading”.

The IACM’s criticisms focused on FDA-certified color additive Brilliant Blue, rather than Patent Blue which is not allowed in many countries including the US. The Association said the study had been quick to conclude that Brilliant Blue posed a health risk.

Study author Hojerocva said in her letter to the Food and Chemical Toxicology​ that her paper focused on systemic absorption and not on the human health risk of Brilliant Blue.

Hojerocva told us: "Unfortunately, when we were preparing your report for the Confectionerynews, we used this criticized expression, and we did not have the right to use it."

Food and Chemical Toxicology 52 (2013)
'Absorption of triphenylmethane dyes Brilliant Blue and Patent Blue through intact skin, shaven skin and lingual mucosa from daily life products'
Authors: Marianna Lucova, Jarmila Hojerova et al.

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1 comment


Posted by James,

Once again a potentially useful bit of information is being suppressed by an industry that only cares about their profits. I find it interesting that the study author back tracked from what appears to be a valid conclusion after she received pressure.

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