The E161 group are Xanthophylls, (from the Greek, Xanthos -
yellow) although E161g is more orange than yellow, and are related
to carotene. Extracted using the solvent hexane they normally
contain other source plant material.
Canthaxanthin is also available in some mushrooms, crustaceans
and fish, so vegetarians beware, but it is normally obtained
commercially from beta-carotene.
As well as being used in such products as chicken in breadcrumbs,
fish fingers, mallow biscuits, pickles and preserves, sauces
and sweets it is also fed to farmed salmon and trout to enhance
the colour of the flesh. Fed to laying hens to colour egg yolks.
It is also used to colour the skin in artificial sun-tan products
where its' use has given concern to eyesight problems. In particular
a deterioration in twilight vision, delays in adapting to the
dark and sensitivity to glare. These products use greater quantities
than those used in food, although at present there is no direct
correlation, but with the increasing use of Canthaxanthin as
a 'natural' substance in food, there is a real cause for concern.