When colorants are needed in the formulation of a new or reformulated food or beverage, synthetic colors are now seldom used. Once praised for their cost effectiveness, aesthetic appeal, ease of use and high stability, synthetic colors are now largely being replaced by natural colors. This is due, by and large, to a convergence of two trends.
First, there is a growing belief, disputed by most reputable scientists and FDA that synthetic colors contribute to ADHD in children. This belief was given additional credence in 2007 with the highly publicized “Southampton Study” in which a link was reported between six synthetic colorants and ADHD in children. Second, the general “health and wellness” trend emphasizing natural and wholesome foods. As the food industry worked to capitalize on this trend, the lack of a legal definition of “natural” came to play and redirected the efforts toward “clean labeling.”
“Clean Label” is an ambiguous term describing an approach used by the food industry to avoid making the “natural” claims which have proven to be difficult to legally defend. A clean label approach utilizes a limited number of recognizable ingredients to convey a “natural” message without explicitly stating it. Naturally sourced ingredients are the norm, but not every natural ingredient aligns with consumers’ desires. In the case of colors, carmine (insect-derived), caramel (carcinogen link) and titanium dioxide (mineral-sourced) are a few examples of natural colors that would not be considered appropriate for most “clean label” foods.
In general, naturally-sourced colorants, while gaining market share, exhibit limited stability. Additionally, they can contribute off-tastes and much higher cost-in-use than a synthetic color. Possibly the most important drawback, the palette of available shades is insufficient to meet the needs of the food industry.
Red is the most popular shade for foods and beverages. Consequently red colorants represent the single largest market segment. But there is currently no FDA-approved, “clean label”, red food color that meets the broad needs of the food industry. Beet juice lacks stability in heat processed foods and in high water activity products. Carmine and the carotenoids are not “clean-label” and anthocyanins (fruit and vegetable juices) work only in low pH systems and fade unacceptably in the presence of ascorbic acid, a common beverage ingredient.
Awards:- Total Prize Amount $100,000