Coloring within natural lines

by Jeff Gelski
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A study from The Hartman Group and sales figures from The Nielsen Co. both show a market may exist for products that use non-synthetic, or naturally-derived, colors.

According to “Beyond Natural and Organic 2010” from The Hartman Group, 73% of respondents associate the meaning of natural with no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives (see story on Page 12). People are buying products with natural claims, too. According to Nielsen, sales of such products reached $21,266,726,697 for the 52 weeks ended Feb. 20, 2010, nearly a 3% increase from the previous 52 weeks and nearly four times more than organic sales of $4,511,109,408 for the 52 weeks ended Feb. 20, 2010. Sales covered U.S. food stores with annual sales of $2 million or more, excluding supercenters.

Innovative ways to use non-synthetic or naturally-derived colors have increased recently.

Food Ingredient Solutions, L.L.C., Teterboro, N.J., now distributes Vivapigments from Colarome, Saint-Hubert, Que.

“Vivapigments takes natural dyes, encapsulates them in a rice protein matrix and micronizes them so that they will function like synthetic pigments (lakes),” said Jeff Greaves, president of Food Ingredient Solutions. “This allows replacement of another class of synthetic colors for the first time and also allows you to avoid the aluminum present in carmine and synthetic lakes.

“The timing of the rollout is also good because carmine prices are up 800% just as the demand for naturals is increasing rapidly due to impending European regulatory changes.”

Applications for Vivapigments include colored sugars and salts, pressed tablets and confections, tablet coatings, compound coatings/white chocolate, seasoning blends, powdered beverages, fruit bits, cosmetics, oils and fats, Mr. Greaves said.

Wild Flavors, Erlanger, Ky., now offers heat-stable colors from natural sources that meet the technology standards used in extruded confectionery. Depending on the color, they withstand temperatures up to 80 degrees Celsius (176 degrees Fahrenheit) or 135C (275F). Potential applications include licorice, chewy candies or gummy confectionery.

GNT USA, Inc., Tarrytown, N.Y., offers Exberry coloring foodstuffs that are produced from fruit and vegetables and are free from artificial additives.

Caramel is another option for naturally-derived color. Sethness Caramel Color, Lincolnwood, Ill., offers Class 1 colors that are produced by heating high-dextrose corn syrup, fructose or sucrose without adding any ammonia or sulfite reactants during the process. The Class 1A colors offer yellow, red, or light brown tones in a spectrum of applications.

Another caramel color supplier, Louisville, Ky.-based D.D. Williamson, offers naturally-derived food color additives in such forms as annatto extract, caramel and grape skin extract. The company defines naturally-derived color additives as those that are derived from agricultural, biological or mineral sources; produced with a simple process; and have histories of safe use.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, “natural color” may be interpreted erroneously to mean the color is a naturally occurring constituent in the food. The F.D.A. thus would object to “natural color” appearing on an ingredient label. D.D. Williamson gives the advice that a declaration on the ingredient statement may read “color added,” “colored with (name of color additive)” or “(name of color additive) color.”

“Naturally-derived color additives may achieve a ‘cleaner’ and more consumer-friendly ingredient statement than, for example, Blue 1,” D.D. Williamson said.

Colors due to sunset in organic program’s National List

WASHINGTON — Several colors are among 232 materials on the National Organic Program’s National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (National List) that is due to sunset in 2012. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has initiated a public comment period that will end May 25, 2010.

The National List identifies synthetic substances that are exempted (allowed) and non-synthetic (natural) substances that are prohibited from use in organic production and handling, as recommended by the National Organic Standards Board (N.O.S.B.). Substances may not remain on the National List for more than five years without being reviewed and recommended for renewal by the N.O.S.B. and adopted by the Secretary of Agriculture.

Colors up for review include:

• annatto extract

• beet juice extract

• beta-carotene extract

color from carrots

• black currant juice

• black/purple carrot juice

• blueberry juice

• carrot juice

• cherry juice

• chokeberry-aronia juice

• elderberry juice

• grape juice

• grape skin extract

• paprika

• pumpkin juice

• purple potato juice

• red cabbage extract

• red radish extract

• saffron extract

• turmeric extract.

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