Home » FSS ACT » Benefits of food colour and safety in their use

Benefits of food colour and safety in their use

Monday, 04 April, 2016, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Rewa Kumari, Murlidhar Meghwal
Food is source of energy and to sustain we need food. Colours are an inseparable part of food. We cannot think of food without colour. Any dye, pigment or substance which is added to food items—solid or liquid—imparting the desired colour, is referred to as food colouring.

A food colouring agent can be available in various forms such as solid powders, liquid, viscous like gel or pastes. It can be of two types based on its sources (a) Natural colour and (b) synthetic or artificial colour. Natural food colour is good for health.

Need for addition of colour to food
Make food more attractive and informative as that helps the consumers to identify their desired food products. Also make food more appetising.

Food colours influence appetite and choice of food. Offsetting colour loss due to light, air, extremes of temperature, moisture, and storage conditions, masking natural variations in colour, enhancing naturally occurring colours, and providing identity to foods are all essential in the quest to make food attractive and informative.

Protecting flavours and vitamins from damage by light, ensuring a certain quality for decorative or artistic purposes and increasing appetite appeal, making less desirable food more desirable, masking defects, and keeping certain foods tasting fresher for long timeare also key.

Natural colour of food – Indication
It may indicate degree of sweetness, degree of ripeness or decay, type of flavour, types of fruits or vegetables, and visual information about phytochemical properties that are good for health.

Natural colouring agent
Annatto (E160b), a reddish-orange dye made from the seed of the achiote Betanin (E162) extracted from beets Butterfly pea; a blue food dye Caramel colouring (E150a-d) made from caramelised sugar Chlorophyllin (E140); a green dye made from chlorella algae Elderberry juice
Lycopene (E160d) Carmine (E120); a red dye derived from the cochineal insect, Dactylopius coccus Pandan (Pandanus amaryllifolius); a green food colouring Paprika (E160c) Turmeric (curcuminoids, E100) Saffron (carotenoids, E160a).

Artificial colouring agent
Food colouring agents, food colourants, colourants, colour additives, and food dyes are any dye, pigment or substance that can impart colour, alone or through reaction with other substances, when added or applied to a food, drug, cosmetics or to the human body.

The natural colours from plant, animal and mineral sources had been used but due to economic interest, manufacturers had popularised more artificial colours. Aniline was the first  petroleum product that is a toxic compound from which several chemically synthesised colours were derived. Basically starting materials were obtained from coal tar of bituminous coal and which were very toxic to health. Artificially synthesised colours are less costly to produce, and are attractive in colouring properties, highly concentrated, and they are widely available and have been used in food, paint, coating, textile and plastics industries. Azo-dyes is another variety of synthetic colours. In this dye, colour can be controlled selecting the number of azo-groups and various substituents. A blue achieved by replacing the aniline derivate with benzidine derivate and red colours by reaction between aniline derivatives (diazo) with a naphthol derivate. The following seven artificial colourings are permitted in food as of 2007 in the US food regulations:
FD&C Blue No. 1 – Brilliant Blue FCF, E133 (blue shade)
FD&C Blue No. 2 – Indigotine, E132 (indigo shade)
FD&C Green No. 3 – Fast Green FCF, E143 (turquoise shade)
FD&C Red No. 3 – Erythrosine, E127 (pink shade, commonly used in glacé cherries)
FD&C Red No. 40 – Allura Red AC, E129 (red shade)
FD&C Yellow No. 5 – Tartrazine, E102 (yellow shade)
FD&C Yellow No. 6 – Sunset Yellow FCF, E110 (orange shade)
Citrus Red 2 (orange shade) – allowed only for use to colour orange peels and orange B (red shade) – allowed only for use in hot dog and sausage casings. These dyes are only allowed by the Food and Drug Administration, USA for specific limited applications.

Indian food regulations regarding food colour
As per the Food Safety and Standards Regulations, 2011, extraneous addition of colouring matter to be mentioned on the label – where an extraneous colouring matter has been added to any article of food, there shall be displayed one of the following statements in capital letters, just beneath the list of the ingredients on the label attached to any package of food so coloured, namely: Contains Permitted Natural Colour(s) or Contains Permitted Synthetic Food Colour(s) or Contains Permitted Natural and Synthetic Food Colour(s).

In case, both colour and flavour are used in the product, one of the following combined statements in capital letters shall be displayed, just beneath the list of ingredients on the label attached to any package of food so coloured and flavoured, namely:—
Contains Permitted Natural Colour(s) and Added Flavour(s)
or
Contains Permitted Synthetic Food Colour(s) and Added Flavour(s) or
Contains Permitted Natural and Synthetic Food Colour(s) and Added Flavour(s)

A package containing annatto colour in vegetable oils shall bear the following label namely – Annatto colour in oil (Name of oil/oils) used.

Labelling of permitted food coulours: Regulation 4.4.3 (2010)
(1) No person shall sell a permitted synthetic food colours for use in or upon food unless its container carries a label stating the following particulars:—
(i) The words “Food Colours”;
(ii) The chemical and the common or commercial name and colour index of the dye-stuff.
(2) No person shall sell a mixture of permitted synthetic food colours for use in or upon food unless its container carries a label stating the following particulars:—
(i) The words “Food Colour Mixture”;
(ii) The chemical and the common or commercial name and colour index of the dye stuff contained in the mixture.
(3) No person shall sell a preparation of permitted synthetic food colours for use in or upon food unless its container carries a label stating the following particulars:—
(i) The words “Food Colour Preparation”;
(ii) The name of the various ingredients used in the preparation.

Malted Milk food in this Package Contains Permitted Natural Colouring Matter
Every advertisement for and/or a package of food containing added Monosodium Glutamate shall carry the following declaration, namely :—
This package of………….. (name of the food) contains added………… Monosodium Glutamate
not Recommended for Infants Below -12 Months.

Regulation 6.1.2 (2010) Colouring Matter
(1) Unauthorised addition of colouring matter prohibited – The addition of colouring matter to any article of food except as specifically permitted by these regulations is prohibited.
(2) Natural colouring matters which may be used – Except as otherwise provided in these Regulations and Appendices, the following natural colouring principles whether isolated from natural colours or produced synthetically may be used in or upon any article of food.
(a) Carotin and Carotenoids including
(i) Beta-carotene; (ii) Beta-apo 8’- carotenal; (iii) Methylester of Beta-apo 8’ carotenoic acid, (iv) Ethylester of Beta-apo 8’ carotenoic acid, (v) Canthaxanthin;
(b) Chlorophyll;
(c) Riboflavin (Lactoflavin).
(d) Caramel.
(e) Annatto
(f) Saffron
(g) Curucumin or turmeric

(3) Addition of inorganic colouring matters and pigments prohibited – Inorganic colouring matters and pigments shall not be added to any article of food unless otherwise provided in these Regulations and Appendices
(4) Synthetic food colours which may be used
No synthetic food colours or a mixture thereof except the following shall be used in food.

Sr No Colour Common Name Colour Index (1956) Chemical Class
1 Red Ponceau 4RCarmoisineErythrosine 162551472045430 AzoAzoXanthene
2 Yellow TartrazineSunset Yellow FCF 1914015985 PyrazoloneAzo
3 Blue Indigo CarmineBrilliant Blue FCF 7301542090 IndigoidTriarylmethane
4 Green Fast Green FCF 42053 Triarylmethane

Use of lake colours as colourant in foods
Aluminium Lake of Sunset Yellow FCF may be used in powdered dry beverages mix (powdered soft drink concentrate) upto a maximum limit of 0.04 per cent by weight. The maximum limit of colour content in final beverage for consumption shall not exceed 8.3 ppm and that of aluminium content shall not exceed 4.4 ppm of the final beverage for consumption:
Provided that the powdered dry beverages mix (powdered soft drink concentrate) label shall give clear instruction for reconstitution of product for making final beverage
(6) Use of permitted synthetic food colours prohibited – Use of permitted synthetic food colours in or upon any food other than those enumerated below is prohibited :–
(i) Ice-cream, milk lollies, frozen desserts, flavoured milk, yoghurt, ice cream mix powder;
(ii) Biscuits including biscuit wafer, pastries, cakes, confectionery, thread candies, sweets, savouries (dalmoth, mongia, phululab, sago papad, dal biji only);
(iii) Peas, strawberries and cherries in hermetically sealed containers, preserved or processed papaya, canned tomato juice, fruit syrup, fruit squash, fruit crushes, fruit cordial, jellies, jam, marmalade, candied crystallised or glazed fruits;

(iv) Non-alcoholic carbonated and non-carbonated ready-to-serve synthetic beverages including
synthetic syrups, sharbats, fruit bar, fruit beverages, fruit drinks, synthetic soft-drink concentrates;
(v) Custard powder;
(vi) Jelly crystal and ice-candy;
(vii) Flavour emulsion and flavour paste for use in carbonated or non-carbonated beverages only under label declaration as provided in Regulation 4.4.5 (35).
(7) Maximum limit of permitted synthetic food colours – The maximum limit of permitted synthetic food colours or mixture thereof which may be added to any food article enumerated in Regulation 6.1.2(6) and Appendix
A of these Regulations shall not exceed 100 parts per million of the final food or beverage for consumption, except in case of food articles mentioned in clause (c) of Regulation 6.1.2 (6) where the maximum limit of permitted synthetic food colours shall not exceed 200 parts per million of the final food or beverage for consumption.
(8) Colours to be pure – The colours specified in these regulations, when used in the preparation of any article of food shall be pure and free from any harmful impurities.

Conclusion
Colouring agent in food has an important role. Without colour we cannot imagine food or its item. Colour makes food and its items very attractive and appealing to taste. Natural food colours are good for health whereas use of chemically synthesised arterial colour is not very good for health and their use should be controlled fully by laws by government. Wherever there is use of artificial colour in food they should be mentioned on the container properly in labelling. Manufacturing companies and industries should strictly follow the guidelines given by food laws to ensure the safety and health of the general public.

(The author is food technologist, Centre for Emerging Technologies, Jain University, Jakkasandra, Ramanagara, Karnataka. He can be contacted at murli.murthi@gmail.com)

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