Food colors are present in many of the foods & beverages we encounter every day. As eating is a full sensorial experience, we tend to avoid foods with colors that don’t reflect the taste or freshness we are looking for. Though we may not realize it, food ingredients for color are responsible for keeping our food looking and tasting the way we expect.

Many of the foods & beverages we consume daily would not have the vibrant color that we are used to if it wasn’t for food coloring. These products would look completely different and nowhere near as appealing if it wasn’t for food color optimization.

Natural food coloring

As a response to the trend of moving away from processed foods and ingredients, natural food colorings and coloring foods have become increasingly popular. Some of the natural colors we use today are the same as those that people have been using for centuries including:

  • Carotenoids

    Mainly used for their orange, red and yellow colors, carotenoids function as antioxidants in the body. One of the most popular carotenoids is beta-carotene, which comes from sweet potatoes and pumpkins – it's often added to dairy products like margarine and cheese because it’s soluble in fat.

  • Chlorophyll

    It's in all green plants and algae and is essential for their photosynthetic processes. We owe the oxygen in our atmosphere to chlorophyll. Not only that, but chlorophyll gives mint and lime-flavored foods like ice cream and candy the color we expect and desire.

  • Anthocyane

    These are the organic compounds responsible for the deep color in blueberries, cranberries and grapes. Anthocyanin is a popular choice as a natural food color because its solubility in water means it works well in a variety of products. Water-based products like soft drinks, jelly and even blue corn chips get their color from anthocyanins

  • Turmeric

    This natural food coloring comes from the root of the turmeric plant. It is most abundantly grown in Southeast Asia and India, hence its association with some of that region's most popular foods. It's not only a favorite for its excellent flavor but also for the vibrant yellow color it naturally imparts.

How food is colored

What defines a good food color? It all comes down to how well the coloring interacts with your product. There are several factors to bear in mind.

Your food coloring must dissolve evenly. Depending on your product, this may mean having a food color that dissolves well with dairy products or in water. In either case, the color must react with its solute so that it breaks down into individual molecules – just like when you stir salt or sugar into a glass of water – it thoroughly mixes to form a homogenous solution.

Another characteristic of a quality food coloring is its ability to maintain its color when dissolved. A good food color maintains its color in a solution – unlike other substances like salt or sugar – because its molecules require less energy to give off color. Food coloring absorbs lower-energy light to produce the visible colors we see with the naked eye.

Get in touch

Please contact the food experts at Brenntag Food & Nutrition for more information on the food colors that we can offer to make your product truly stand out. We are looking forward to helping to color your world.

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