For once, there is some really great news in the food aisle. Things are returning to natural and it’s not a scam.
An increasing number of food companies are moving away from those chemical, synthetic food colorings and replacing them with natural plant based colors. This is due, in part, to an increased demand by consumers for natural coloring after a study in the Lancet, released in 2007, showed a definite link between artificial coloring and hyperactivity in young children.
Have you ever looked at some foods, such as Doritos or Lucky Charms, and been amazed by the sheer brightness (not to mention unnatural at times) of the coloring? Extremely bright orange Jacked Doritos, for example, get their coloring from Yellow 5 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake, Red 40, Blue 1, Yellow 6, and Red 40 Lake. Yep; nothing natural here.
While all of the food colorings listed above, and more, are considered to be safe by the FDA, consumers simply aren’t buying it and food companies are listening.
Many companies fear that if they wait too long, the FDA just might step in one day and demand that synthetic coloring be phased out. This means that food companies are now taking a precautionary and proactive stand. By acting now, they can take their time developing food colors that come from natural sources.
Why use synthetic colors to begin with, you might ask? The problem with food colors from plants is that colors are not only more difficult to control (not every blueberry will produce the exact same hue) but there is also the fact that food colors are notorious for becoming unstable; which means that they can fade quickly or turn from a pretty yellow to a disgusting shade of baby poop brown in a few days or a few weeks.
Kraft announced in April of 2015 that their famous macaroni and cheese dinners will be free of synthetic colors by the end of 2016. Panera Bread also pledged to forgo all artificial colors by the end of 2016, as did General Mills. Even Nestle jumped on the bandwagon and announced that all chocolate candy products would contain only natural coloring by the end of 2016.
Companies that make coloring for the big food corporations have been experimenting with different food sources in an attempt to come up with colors that will be more stable, yet still give food a colorful appeal.
One company, colorMaker, based in Anaheim, California, has been using foods such as red cabbage, beets, grapes, even purple carrots to extract the colors they sell. The company states that you can find their natural color blends in everything from ice cream to candy, pasta to cereal.
Another company, Kalsec, has a patent for a system called Durabrite, which makes natural colors more stable against oxygen, heat, and light. They are the world’s biggest purchaser of carrots from growers across America. Kalsec states that their products are found in snack chips, cereals, and margarine.
From Kalsec’s yellow orange, we move around the spectrum to red, pink, and purple. San Joaquin Valley Concentrates makes these colors from Rubired grapes, purple sweet potatoes, and purple carrots, all grown in and around Fresno, California. The company says that they not only sell the colors that come from these natural foods, but they also extract and sell the anthocyanins, which are healthy antioxidants. You have probably seen foods or drinks that boast “added antioxidants” and wondered how they did that. Now you know.
San Joaquin Valley Concentrates says that Rubired grapes are currently grown only in the San Joaquin Valley and they are one of the preferred coloring agents because, unlike other food colorings, Rubired grapes are much more stable. You have probably already been exposed to this grape’s red color in candy, frozen fruit bars, and many types of beverages.
Would you be willing to pay a bit more for foods that contain natural colors, like the ones mentioned above? Do artificial colors turn you off? Do you avoid foods that contain synthetic coloring?
We would love to hear your opinion on this subject.