Colors, Naturally

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As consumers continue their hunt for natural products, foods and beverages with synthetic ingredients are increasingly being eyed with suspicion and left sitting on store shelves. As such, food manufacturers are formulating—and reformulating—with “natural” in mind.

“Colors from natural sources such as fruits and vegetables are becoming increasingly popular for new product launches across the food and beverage industry in order to deliver a cleaner and more consumer-friendly label,” says Tamara Higgins, commercial development manager, natural colors, FMC BioPolymer. “While there is not a full spectrum of natural colors to replace synthetic dyes, there is a robust range of natural hues available with acceptable stability in many applications.”

FMC offers a range of colors sourced from natural pigments, from yellow and orange to pink, red and purple. In addition to offering these basic pigments, the company specializes in developing blends to achieve the desired shade in the final application.

“It is a widely held misconception that all natural colors are difficult to use due to their instability to heat and light,” Higgins says. “It is important to work closely with a trusted supplier to find the correct hue, with the appropriate solubility and shelf-life stability given formulation constraints, processing conditions and the finished product physical characteristics. A few areas to pay special attention to include the formula mix, pH conditions, temperature constraints, as well as packaging and storage. Paying careful attention to processing conditions will help manufacturers achieve the desired hue that will last through the end of shelf life.”

Natural colors offered by FMC can be used in a range of applications, including confections, beverages, spray-dried cheese, cereals, snacks, baked goods, salad dressings, sauces, soluble seasonings, batters, crumbs, meats, fruit concentrates and frozen desserts.

For colors in the yellow range, the company offers turmeric and beta-carotene based blends in both liquid and dry forms suitable for either liquid- or fat-based systems. Turmeric can often appear greenish yellow; therefore, combinations of turmeric with annatto are often used.

Natural orange hues based on carotenoid pigments from paprika and annatto are available in both liquid and dry forms. Carmine or fruit and vegetable concentrates are used to achieve pink, red and purple hues. While carmine is an excellent color for beverages, confections and meats, its non-kosher status is an issue for some consumer products, Higgins notes. “Anthocyanin pigments from fruits and vegetables, such as purple carrot, red cabbage, purple sweet potatoes, red radishes, maquiberry and grapes, or betanins from beet root are the preferred alternative for many applications,” she says. “The pH effect on hue and stability creates a challenge when working with anthocyanin pigments. Anthocyanins are most stable at pH of 3.0 to 3.5, and sometimes as high as 4.5; however, at higher pH levels, the hue becomes more blue and less stable.” Anthocyanins are a good choice for confections, fruit preparations, frozen desserts and beverages.

Source: Food Product Design