In the future, Santa may be leaving candy canes and nibbling holiday cookies that are a little duller, but better for your health. The reason? Food color manufacturers are going natural. Food manufacturers worldwide are increasingly turning to more natural colors in an effort to replace potentially harmful, though often dazzling, artificial colorings now used in many foods and beverages. An article on this topic is scheduled for the December 15 issue of Chemical & Engineering News, ACS’ weekly newsmagazine.
In the article, C&EN senior editor Melody Voith points out that some artificial colors, such as Red #40, have been linked to hyperactivity in children as well as other health problems. Such health concerns have spurred colorant phase-outs and new regulations, causing manufacturers to search for natural alternatives. Food coloring now represents a $1.2 billion global market, with natural colors capturing 31 percent of the food market but growing at a rate of 5 percent yearly, according to the article.
The switch is not easy. Food manufacturers are finding it difficult to substitute synthetic colors with natural ones that preserve the exact look and appeal of the original product, whose quality consumers often judge by appearance. That’s why researchers are now experimenting with a wide range of natural colorants derived from dark-colored vegetables in an effort to closely match their artificial counterparts. Ingredient makers are looking, for example, to red cabbage and purple sweet potatoes to provide new natural sources of red, purple, and blue, the article notes.
— An American Chemical Society (ACS) News Release on December 15, 2008.