Natural Food Colors are used to tint foods without the use of chemicals and preservatives. They are made of natural pigments sourced from vegetables, minerals or animals.
Aside from the fact that they look healthier, these colors have other benefits too. For example, pomegranate juice can create pinkish red coloring and is also an excellent source of vitamins C and K.
Natural food colorings are derived from fruits, vegetables and minerals. Some are extracted from a wide variety of microorganisms, while others — like carotenoids and chlorophyll — are sourced from plants. There are even FDA-approved food color additives that come from insects.
Natural food colorings provide a wider range of hues than synthetic colors and are easier to prepare for home bakers and cooks. They are also safer to use, as they don’t release harmful chemicals when exposed to heat and sunlight. However, some natural food colors may leave a slight taste of the ingredient that they came from — beet juice leaves a red tint in icing, saffron produces a yellow, and purple dye can be made from boiling red cabbage. That could be a good thing for some products, but for others it might not be desirable. Fortunately, improved extraction, processing and manufacturing techniques make natural foods colors just as stable and reliable batch-to-batch as their synthetic counterparts.
A green pigment, chlorophyll is the primary force behind photosynthesis—the process that converts sunlight into energy for plants to grow. Its ability to provide lush, vibrant hues in foods and beverages is also a boon for chefs looking to create food masterpieces.
Chlorophyll infused sauces and dressings add a bright, fresh color that is pleasing to the eye and palate. It can even be used to color food & beverage powders, gels, emulsions and pastes.
Natural colorings derived from fruits, vegetables and minerals are a safe alternative to artificial dyes. They do not require a rigorous batch certification process and can be readily available in a wide variety of packaging options. They also do not carry the same risks of adverse reactions in children as FD&C colors. Regardless of the source, it is important that these colorings be carefully controlled to consistently produce the desired results in food. This ensures consistent performance, quality and consumer safety.
Anthocyanins are water-soluble pigments that produce a wide range of colors from blue to purple to pink to red. They are derived from a variety of natural sources such as berries, cranberries, grape skins, purple corn, radishes, blackcurrants, and bilberry fruits.
A key characteristic of anthocyanin is that its molecular structure shifts color based on pH levels, making it unique among natural food colours. This change in color is caused by the phenolic -OH groups becoming protonated at low pH, and methoxylated at higher pH values.
Because of these properties, anthocyanin is a popular alternative to synthetic dyes that are often associated with serious allergies such as those related to cochineal extract. It is also much less prone to fading, though it can be more expensive than synthetic alternatives.
Arjuna Naturals is a leading manufacturer of standardized botanical extracts for the food supplement industry dedicated to eco-friendly and sustainable practices. It has customers across the globe and boasts an advanced research facility that includes tie-ups with international universities for photochemistry, pharmacokinetics, formulation, development, and pre-clinical studies.
Benny Antony, Joint Managing Director of the company, says US consumers are seeking products that are free of artificial ingredients. He points out that many fruit-based drinks and smoothies require synthetic preservatives, which are susceptible to oxidation and microbial growth.
To counter these problems, the firm launched X-tend — a complete, natural preservative for chilled meat products that safeguards taste, colour and product safety. It is available in liquid and powder form. It also strengthens the stomach’s gastric mucosa and prevents acid reflux. It is also effective against the bacterial infection Helicobacter Pylori, which leads to stomach ulcers. Moreover, it promotes hair growth and treats mouth ulcers and bleeding piles.