A recent study targets the alleged health effects of two food and beverage dyes—Brilliant Blue (E133) and Patent Blue (E131)—after systemic absorption. Marianna Lucová, et al., “Absorption of triphenylmethane dyes Brilliant Blue and Patent Blue through intact skin, shaven skin and lingual mucosa from daily life products,” Food and Chemical Toxicology, February 2013.
A particular focus of the study was to “assess the potential for lingua mucosa absorption of the dyes from human saliva as a consequence of licking lollipops.” The findings were “troubling,” the study noted, “particularly with regard to the repeated licking of lollipops by children.”
The study concludes that because both dyes can potentially enter the bloodstream through the dorsum of the tongue and cause adverse health effects, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, allergies and asthma, neither dye should be used in the manufacturing of lollipops and hard candies. Brilliant Blue is used as food additive in the United States, but the use of Patent Blue is not allowed in many countries, including the United States, Australia, Canada, Japan, and New Zealand.