What is Food Color?

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Food Coloring is a substance, solid or liquid, that is mixed with food or beverage to transform its color. Food colors are derived from both organic and inorganic sources. They are available in two types: Dye and Lake. Dye colors are less vibrant, insoluble in oil and more likely to bleed. Lake colors are soluble in oil, more stable and does not bleed. Food coloring agents are used both in domestic cooking and commercial food processing. Food Colors are used in  alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages, fruit juices, desserts, jams, jellies, sauces, pickles, cosmetics, toileteries and washing detergent. All medicines including tablets, capsules and syrups are dyed with food colors. Most of the Food coloring agents are relatively, non-toxic, cheap, and easily available. Nowadays, food colors have many non-food applications such as play dough, craft projects, and clay models.



What are the uses of Food Coloring?

  • Food Coloring agents are used to make food look better. They also improve the texture of food.
  • Food Colors are  extensively used to hide the color variation in food due to  change in storage environment, season, temperature, humidity, air or light.
  • They are also used to safeguard foods' nutrients from sunlight and moisture.  
  • Bakers or chefs use food colors to decorate their culinary preparations.



What are the Natural Food Coloring Agents?

  • Turmeric, saffron, paprika, elderberry juice, butterfly pea, and beet root are used as Food Coloring agents.
  • Annatto seeds add yellowish-orange tone to butter, margarine, salad dressings,  desserts, soups and sauces.
  • Beetroot extract gives red color to instant desserts, dairy products, and meat products.
  • Pistachio nuts give green color to bakery products, ice creams, cakes mixes, jellies, yoghurt soups, and drugs.
  • Sugarcane molasses give brown or reddish brown color to liquor, puddings, yoghurt and meat products.
  •  Sunflower extract gives golden yellowish hue to soft drinks and confectioneries. 
  • Chlorella algae, and Pandan (Pandanus amaryllifolius) are used to make a green food color.
  • Butterfly pea extract gives blue color.
  • Turmeric gives a golden yellow hue.
  • Orangish hue is derived from orange peels.



What are the Synthetic Food Coloring Agents?

Most of the inorganic Food Colorings are made from various minerals. The Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 restricts the number of inorganic food colors. These colors are referred as FCF  which stands for "For Coloring of Food" in the United Kingdom and"For Coloring Food" in the United States. 

  • FD&C Blue No-1 give a brilliant blue shade
  • FD&C Blue No-2 gives indigo shade
  • FD&C Green No-3 gives turquoise shade
  • FD&C Red No-4 gives red shade
  • FD&C Red No-3 gives pink shade
  • FD&C Yellow No-5 gives yellow shade
  • FD&C Yellow No-6 gives orange shade



What are the Side-effects of Food Coloring?

  •  Several  studies found that both organic and inorganic coloring agents can cause cancer.
  • Besides, food colors cause attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and attention-deficit disorder (ADD). Most of the EU countries have banned artificial foods dyes.
  • FD & C Yellow No-5 contains tartrazine which is derived from coal tar. People who are aspirin sensitive or asthmatic can experience severe allergic reactions. 
  •  FD & C Red No. 3 contains erythrosine. Studies have proved that high doses of erythrosine  develops thyroid tumors. This colorant is suspected to be carcinogenic.
  • Carmine derived from insects can cause fatal allergic reactions. 
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