Of late, there has been very strong sentiment towards adopting natural and organic substances, whether it is part of our lifestyle choices or our food. Particularly, in the case of food products, organic produce and naturally grown food items have gained popularity. That said, people still want their food produce, and even cooked food, to look appealing and appetizing with vivid colors. Where food coloring is being used, there is a push to adopt natural food colors for beverages, confectionery, savouries and desserts, where earlier a lot of synthetic food color was being used. The use of natural food coloring has improved options for food manufacturers as there would be no health concerns raised over the colors used and they would still be able to serve food that looks attractive and colorful.
WHERE DOES NATURAL FOOD COLORING COME FROM?
There is no dearth of options in terms of color in nature. Natural food coloring is derived from plants that are edible and good for our health, while being capable of providing vivid colors to the food plate. However, it is important to exercise caution and be aware of what is being provided in the name of natural food coloring. The main areas to be looked into are consistency and quality as these have a deep impact on the potency of the color.
The reason why some synthetic food colors have still been given approval for use by food regulatory authorities in various countries is because of the intense and vivid colors that can be brought out by the artificial colors. Natural food coloring is associated with pastel colors and there is a concern that the color may fade on contact or after a specific process / time. This is not always the case. It is possible for natural food colors to provide vibrant hues, provided that adequate care is taken for the preparation of the food and there is a clear understanding of how the colors are being included in the final food product.
WHICH PLANTS ARE MOST COMMONLY USED FOR NATURAL FOOD COLORING?
The plants, fruits and vegetables that are chosen for their natural coloring usually have properties that allow them to be transported, stored, and processed without losing their vivid colors and prove useful to add a pop of color to various foods and beverages. Among fruits, pomegranates and different kinds of berries are popular for the vibrant hues they impart. In vegetables, sweet potatoes, red cabbage, pumpkin, beetroot, carrots and carrot juice all provide an extra pop of color to food products. The most popular spice that is used as a natural food color is turmeric.
The common food colors are easy to achieve with natural food coloring. However, even difficult to achieve colors like the brilliant blue food coloring are now being derived from natural sources, thanks to the tremendous amount of research that is being put into making natural food coloring alternatives to the synthetic colors that have been in use for a long time.