Stenius 1976: Hypersensitivity to acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) and tartrazine in patients with asthma

Figure 1: Results of testsClinical Allergy. 1976 Mar;6(2): 119-29.

In this study, Stenius and Lemola used far less of tartrazine (Yellow 5) and aspirin than what a person may normally ingest, and had to overcome chronic medication as well (see NOTES below). Nevertheless, they reported that a significant number of patients responded to both.  Click on the picture to see larger and more detail.

QUOTE:  “Tests for sensitivity to analgesics and food additives should be conducted as a routine measure in asthmatics, and sensitive patients should be given information on suitable medication and dietary control.”

QUOTE: [discussing their efforts at creating lists of foods without food additives for their patients] “The best solution would obviously be to establish an international agreement on compulsory and complete declaration of contents, and a general restriction on the use of azo-dyes.”


  1.  All patients were maintained on their daily doses of prednisolone (10 mg or less) which means that the tests had to overcome this medication to be “positive.”
  2. It is not mentioned whether the medication contained food dye in those days, but according to the Keltman Pharmaceuticals Drug information (2010),  the 10 mg tablet by Keltman Pharmaceuticals contains no dye, although the 20 mg tablet contains both Yellow 10 and Yellow 6 Aluminum Lakes.
  3. The patients were put on a salicylate-free dye-free diet “as far as possible” for 48 hours before testing.
  4. The maximum test dosage for aspirin was 100 mg –just a little more than a single baby aspirin.
  5. The maximum dosage for Yellow 5 was 10 mg — about 2/3 of the mean and 1/4 of the maximum amounts recognized by the National Academy of Sciences and the FDA in 1979 (Stevens 2013, Table 2 — Get Password).

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