Clean and colorful

by Jeff Gelski
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Keeping food and beverage labels clean, or lacking in synthetic substances, may prove difficult for processors, but the tactic also may help them target the increasing organic and all-natural markets. These two trends have led color ingredient suppliers to introduce a flurry of organic or all-natural lines over the past year.

Working with natural colors probably will require more time, said Margaret A. Lawson, vice-president of science and innovation for D.D. Williamson, Louisville, Ky. The pH status may affect outcomes as can light stability and heat stability.

"There is an intuitive science behind getting the right natural color," said Ms. Lawson, who is a past president of the Institute of Food Technologists. "You need to really understand how natural colors function under those conditions."

Colors that are exempt from certification by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration may be considered natural. They include pigments derived from natural sources such as vegetables, minerals or animals. The National Organic Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture certifies whether colors are organic.

Besides knowing the difference between organic and natural, food and beverage processors also should know which natural colors that do not qualify as organic might still work in finished products qualifying as organic.

A product qualifies for the U.S.D.A.’s organic seal if at least 95% is organic and the remaining non-agricultural (non-organic) substances appear on a national list of allowed substances. The list may be found at The government is taking petitions from those who believe ingredients need to be added or subtracted from the list, Ms. Lawson said. A chance exists the government will alter the list in 2007, she added.

Formulators already may find caramel color certified organic by the U.S.D.A. D.D. Williamson in 2005 introduced sucrose-based caramel color and caramelized rice syrup, both certified organic by the U.S.D.A. Sethness Products Co., Lincolnwood, Ill., then launched OC90, a certified organic caramel color, in June of this year.

In the natural arena, WILD Flavors, Inc., Erlanger, Ky., said its access to botanical source materials and its extraction technology give WILD an edge in supplying natural colors. The company, for example, offers NETColors (Nano Encapsulation Technology) for anthocyanin and turmeric. NET anthocyanin is an oil-soluble, red color alternative to carmine for use in cocoa-based coatings, chocolates and fat fillings. NET turmeric may improve the longevity of colors in candy, cereal, yogurt, seasonings and ice cream.

Chr Hansen, Inc., Milwaukee, recently introduced its ColorFruit range of natural colors with four shades to enhance colored, clear beverages. The natural red, orange, yellow and violet colors are made from fruits and vegetables.

D.D. Williamson in June launched a new caramelized onion prototype that provides a rich brown color to soups and sauces. The prototype may save processors time and may be labeled as 100% onion, a plus for processors seeking a clean label.

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