We have developed an ultrasensitive indirect competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for the determination of tartrazine. Two carboxylated analogues of tartrazine with different spacer lengths, and one derivative from commercial tartrazine after a little chemical modification, were synthesized as haptens in order to produce antibodies specific to tartrazine. The effect of sulfonic acid groups on the hapten structure of tartrazine was also studied carefully for the first time. A most specific monoclonal antibody against tartrazine was created and exhibited an IC50 value of 0.105 ng/mL and a limit of detection of 0.014 ng/mL, with no cross-reactivity to other structurally-related pigments. The established immunoassay was applied to the determination of tartrazine in fortified samples of orange juice and in real positive samples of carbonated beverages
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