[NEWS] A more natural approach to food coloring

Inspired by NPR The Salt

iStock_000066527031_Small.jpg

Even though artificial colorants are deemed safe by the FDA, it seems that the whole processed food industry is moving toward changing their products formulas to include mostly if not uniquely plant-based ingredients in the future. It is not a coincidence that it comes at a time of American history when citizens up to 70% of the times choose to buy organic and all natural, despite higher prices and sometimes smaller quantities (ref. Hartman Group). Companies like Kraft,  General Mills, and Nestle recently pledged to the new standards not to lose market shares. Whether this phenomenon is the results of a whole new population trend, a self-conscious industry that artificial ingredients are more and more tied to intolerances and diseases, or whether that is the effects of the pressure applied by consumer activists like EWG and Food Babes, we like what's happening!

Based on a recent report by Food Technology, let's see what are some of the creative approaches that companies are making to adjust to this new demand:

Beets is one of the ingredients that the industry is contemplating using to replace artificial colors. Courtesy of colorMaker Inc.

Beets is one of the ingredients that the industry is contemplating using to replace artificial colors. Courtesy of colorMaker Inc.

colorMaker in California uses fruits and vegeatables from purple carrots and red cabbage to beets and grapes from China and Eastern Europe but also USA. These natural colors will help giving a new appealing tone to products like cereals, ice cream, candy and stuffed pasta.

 

Cheese dip is one type of food that Kalsec's natural colors derived from carrots might go into. Courtesy of Kalsec

Cheese dip is one type of food that Kalsec's natural colors derived from carrots might go into. Courtesy of Kalsec

Michigan company Kalsec is not new to using plant-based colorants; it has been doing so for the past 50 years. The company happens to be the world's largest extractor of color from carrots. Because extracting natural colors is not as a stable process as artificial ones, the company says: "We have a certain variety and a certain seed mixture that works the best for us in terms of getting the best yield and the best color that we can,". Example of their carrots extract might range from margarine to snack chips. 

San Joaquin Valley Concentrates sellsa natural color made from Rubired grapes used to tint things like fruit smoothies. Courtesy of San Joaquin Valley Concentrates

San Joaquin Valley Concentrates sellsa natural color made from Rubired grapes used to tint things like fruit smoothies. Courtesy of San Joaquin Valley Concentrates

San Joaquin Valley Concentrates in Fresno, CA uses , Rubired grapes, purple carrots and purple sweet potatoes in both crystal and liquid forms. SJVC also sells anthocyanins — the blue, purple or red pigments – in those fruits and vegetables that give them their gorgeous red, pink and purple shades, according (Anthocyanins are also antioxidants, with a variety of healthful properties.)

Although newer more natural colorants are used in our food, I wonder, does this make processed food safer and more nutritious? Will that change what you eat ? Possibly that will affect us if we are the type that shop at the supermarket and make a conscious consumer choice; for the rest of the population that have little or no choice (eat out, low income, etc), this won't affect things much.  

At the end, we shouldn't be needing to color our food in any way. Nature does that already for us.

 

ARE YOU FOOD SMART ?

 

More Featured Articles