Food coloring

Food coloring
Food coloring spreading on a thin water film in the International Space Station.

Food coloring is a substance, liquid or powder, that is added to food and/or drink to change its color. Food coloring is used both in commercial food production and in domestic cooking. Due to its safety and general availability, food coloring is also used in a variety of non-food applications, for example in home craft projects and in education.


Purpose of food coloring

People associate certain colors with certain flavors, and the color of food can influence the perceived flavor in anything from candy to wine.[1] For this reason, food manufacturers add these dyes to their products. Sometimes the aim is to simulate a color that is perceived by the consumer as natural, such as adding red coloring to glacé cherries (which would otherwise be beige), but sometimes it is for effect, like the green ketchup that Heinz launched in 1999.

While most consumers are aware that food with bright or unnatural colors (such as the green ketchup mentioned above, or children's cereals such as Froot Loops) likely contain food coloring, far fewer people know that seemingly "natural" foods such as oranges and salmon are sometimes also dyed to mask natural variations in color.[2] Color variation in foods throughout the seasons and the effects of processing and storage often make color addition commercially advantageous to maintain the color expected or preferred by the consumer. Some of the primary reasons include:

  • Offsetting color loss due to light, air, extremes of temperature, moisture, and storage conditions.
  • Masking natural variations in color.
  • Enhancing naturally occurring colors.
  • Providing identity to foods.
  • Protecting flavors and vitamins from damage by light.
  • Decorative or artistic purposes such as cake icing.
  • Birthdays and other celebrations.


Food colorings are tested for safety by various bodies around the world and sometimes different bodies have different views on food color safety. In the United States, FD&C numbers (which generally indicates that the FDA has approved the colorant for use in foods, drugs and cosmetics) are given to approved synthetic food dyes that do not exist in nature, while in the European Union, E numbers are used for all additives, both synthetic and natural, that are approved in food applications. The food colours are known by E numbers that begin with a 1, such as E100 (turmeric) or E161b (lutein).

Most other countries have their own regulations and list of food colors which can be used in various applications, including maximum daily intake limits.

Natural colors are not required to be tested by a number of regulatory bodies throughout the world, including the United States FDA. The FDA lists "color additives exempt from certification" for food in subpart A of the Code of Federal Regulations - Title 21 Part 73. However, this list contains substances which may have synthetic origins.

Natural food dyes

A growing number of natural food dyes are being commercially produced, partly due to consumer concerns surrounding synthetic dyes. Some examples include:

To ensure reproducibility, the colored components of these substances are often provided in highly purified form, and for increased stability and convenience, they can be formulated in suitable carrier materials (solid and liquids). Hexane, acetone and other solvents break down cell walls in the fruit and vegetables and allow for maximum extraction of the coloring. Residues of these often remain in the finished product, but they do not need to be declared on the product; this is because they are part of a group of substances known as carry-over ingredients.

Natural food colors, due to their organic nature, can sometimes cause allergic reactions and anaphylactic shock in sensitive individuals. Coloring agents known to be potential hazards include annatto, cochineal and carmine.[citation needed]

Artificial coloring in United States

Seven dyes were initially approved under the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, but several have been delisted and replacements have been found.[3] Some of the food colorings have the abbreviation "FCF" in their names. This stands for "For Coloring Food" (US)[4] or "For Colouring of Food" (UK).[5][6]

Current seven

In the USA, the following seven artificial colorings are permitted in food (the most common in bold) as of 2007:

The above are known as "primary colors"; when they are mixed to produce other colors, those colors are then known as "secondary colors".

Limited use

The following dyes are only allowed by the FDA for specific limited applications:


  • FD&C Red No. 2 – Amaranth
  • FD&C Red No. 4[8][9]
  • FD&C Red No. 32‎ was used to color Florida oranges.[3][8]
  • FD&C Orange Number 1 was one of the first water soluble dyes to be commercialized, and one of seven original food dyes allowed under the Pure Food and Drug Act of June 30, 1906.[3][8]
  • FD&C Orange No. 2‎ was used to color Florida oranges.[3]
  • FD&C Yellow No. 1, 2, 3, and 4[8]
  • FD&C Violet No. 1[8]

Dyes and lakes

Color additives are available for use in food as either "dyes" or lake pigments (commonly known as "lakes").

Dyes dissolve in water, but are not soluble in oil. Dyes are manufactured as powders, granules, liquids or other special purpose forms. They can be used in beverages, dry mixes, baked goods, confections, dairy products, pet foods, and a variety of other products. Dyes also have side effects which lakes do not, including the fact that large amounts of dyes ingested can color stools.

Lakes are made by combining dyes with salts to make insoluble compounds. Lakes tint by dispersion. Lakes are not oil soluble, but are oil dispersible. Lakes are more stable than dyes and are ideal for coloring products containing fats and oils or items lacking sufficient moisture to dissolve dyes. Typical uses include coated tablets, cake and doughnut mixes, hard candies and chewing gums, lipsticks, soaps, shampoos, talc, etc.

Other uses

Because food dyes are generally safer to use than normal artists' dyes and pigments, some artists have used food coloring as a means of making pictures, especially in forms such as body-painting.

Food colorings can be used to dye fabric, but are usually not wash-fast when used on cotton, hemp and other plant fibers. Some food dyes can be fixed on Nylon and animal fibers. Red food dye is often used as theatrical blood.

Criticism and health implications

Though past research showed no correlation between attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and food dyes,[10][11] new studies now point to synthetic preservatives and artificial coloring agents as aggravating ADD and ADHD symptoms, both in those affected by these disorders and in the general population.[12][13] Older studies were inconclusive, quite possibly due to inadequate clinical methods of measuring offending behavior. Parental reports were more accurate indicators of the presence of additives than clinical tests.[14] Several major studies show academic performance increased and disciplinary problems decreased in large non-ADD student populations when artificial ingredients, including artificial colors, were eliminated from school food programs.[15][16]

  • Norway banned all products containing coal tar and coal tar derivatives in 1978. New legislation lifted this ban in 2001 after EU regulations. As such, many FD&C approved colorings have been banned.
  • Tartrazine causes hives in less than 0.01% of those exposed to it.[2]
  • Erythrosine is linked to thyroid tumors in rats.[17]
  • Cochineal, also known as carmine, is derived from insects and therefore is not vegan, vegetarian or kosher. It has also been known to cause severe, even life-threatening, allergic reactions in rare cases.[18]

This criticism originated during the 1950s. In effect, many foods that used dye (such as red velvet cake) became less popular.[citation needed]

Brilliant Blue (BBG) food coloring was cited in a recent study in which rats that had suffered a spinal injury were given an injection of the dye immediately after the injury, and were able to regain or retain motor control. BBG helps protect spine from ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which the body sends to the area after a spinal injury, which further damages the spine by killing motor neurons at the site of the injury.[19]

See also


  1. ^ Jeannine Delwiche (2003). "The impact of perceptual interactions on perceived flavor". Food Quality and Preference. 14 (2): 137–146. doi:10.1016/S0950-3293(03)00041-7. 
  2. ^ a b "FDA/CFSAN Food Color Facts". Food and Drug Administration. Archived from the original on 2006-08-18. Retrieved 2006-09-07. 
  3. ^ a b c d "News of Food; U.S. May Outlaw Dyes Used to Tint Oranges and Other Foods". New York Times. January 19, 1954, Tuesday. "The use of artificial colors to make foods more attractive to the eye may be sharply curtailed by action of the United States Food and Drug Administration. Three of the most extensively used coal tar dyes are being considered for removal from the Government's list of colors certified as safe for internal and external use and consumption." 
  4. ^ US 2073659, Stratton, Ernest K., "Medicinal compounds", published 13 Dec 1933, issued 16 Mar 1937 
  5. ^ Cannon, Geoffrey (1988). The politics of food. London: Century. ISBN 0-7126-1717-5. 
  6. ^ Academic scientists and the pharmaceutical industry
  7. ^ "Red No. 3 and Other Colorful Controversies". U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Archived from the original on 2007-08-09. Retrieved 2007-08-26. "FDA terminated the provisional listings for FD&C Red No. 3 on January 29, 1990, at the conclusion of its review of the 200 straight colors on the 1960 provisional list. Commonly called erythrosine, FD&C Red No. 3 is a tint that imparts a watermelon-red color and was one of the original seven colors on Hesse's list." 
  8. ^ a b c d e "Food coloring". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2007-08-21. "Among the colours that have been “delisted,” or disallowed, in the United States are FD&C Orange No. 1; FD&C Red No. 32; FD&C Yellows No. 1, 2, 3, and 4; FD&C Violet No. 1; and FD&C Reds No. 2 and 4. Many countries with similar food colouring controls (including Canada and Great Britain) also ban the use of Red No. 40, and Yellow No. 5 is also undergoing testing." 
  9. ^ CFR - Code of Federal Regulations Title 21
  10. ^ Wilens TE, Biederman J, Spencer TJ. Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder across the lifespan. Annual Review of Medicine, 2002:53:113–131
  11. ^ The MTA Cooperative Group. A 14-month randomized clinical trial of treatment strategies for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Archives of General Psychiatry, 1999;56:1073–1086
  12. ^ "Food additives and hyperactive behaviour in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the community: a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial", Lancet, Sept 2007
  13. ^ 1997 Graduate Student Research Project conducted at the University of South Florida. Author: Richard W. Pressinger M.Ed.
  14. ^ "Food Additives May Affect Kids' Hyperactivity", WebMD Medical News, May 24, 2004.
  15. ^ "A different kind of school lunch", PURE FACTS, October 2002
  16. ^ "The Impact of a Low Food Additive and Sucrose Diet on Academic Performance in 803 New York City Public Schools," Schoenthaler SJ, Doraz WE, Wakefield JA, Int J Biosocial Res., 1986, 8(2); 185–195
  17. ^ Jpn J Cancer Res. 1988 Mar; 79(3):314–9
  18. ^ "Bugs in your snacks." The Week, Jan 23, 2009
  19. ^ "Same blue dye in M&Ms linked to reducing spine injury - CNN. com". CNN. 2009-07-28. Retrieved 2010-05-02. 

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

См. также в других словарях:

  • food coloring — noun a digestible substance used to give color to food food color made from vegetable dyes • Syn: ↑coloring, ↑colouring, ↑food colouring, ↑food color, ↑food colour • Derivationally related forms: ↑colour …   Useful english dictionary

  • food coloring — artificial colors that are added to certain manufactured food items …   English contemporary dictionary

  • food coloring — See coal tar colors …   Ballentine's law dictionary

  • synthetic food coloring — artificial food coloring …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Food additive — Food additives are substances added to food to preserve flavor or enhance its taste and appearance. Some additives have been used for centuries; for example, preserving food by pickling (with vinegar), salting, as with bacon, preserving sweets or …   Wikipedia

  • Food chemistry — is the study of chemical processes and interactions of all biological and non biological components of foods. The biological substances include such items as meat, poultry, lettuce, beer, and milk as examples. It is similar to biochemistry in its …   Wikipedia

  • Coloring — (or colouring, see spelling differences) can refer to: the color/colour, or the act of changing the color/colour of an object, The act of adding color/colour to the pages of a Coloring book graph coloring, in mathematics. hair coloring Ring tone …   Wikipedia

  • Food manufacture — is the process by which food is manufactured.HistoryEarly food processing techniques were limited by the available food preservation, packaging and transportation. Early food processing mainly involved salting, curing, curdling, drying, pickling… …   Wikipedia

  • coloring — noun 1. a digestible substance used to give color to food food color made from vegetable dyes • Syn: ↑colouring, ↑food coloring, ↑food colouring, ↑food color, ↑food colour • Derivationally related forms: ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • food color — noun a digestible substance used to give color to food food color made from vegetable dyes • Syn: ↑coloring, ↑colouring, ↑food coloring, ↑food colouring, ↑food colour • Derivationally related forms: ↑colour …   Useful english dictionary

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