The “natural colors only” movement resulted in sweeping reductions in the use of synthetic colorants and, understandably, a concurrent rise in interest in naturally derived food colorants. It also has driven a move to a new regulatory distinction currently undergoing formalization in the EU: “coloring foods.” These are food colorants derived from natural sources but processed in ways that retain the more natural identity of the colorant. Colorants that meet this definition are being presented as a marketing advantage in developed markets around the world.
Today’s food manufacturer is faced with, what is for some, a substantial dichotomy. There is a great deal of information to evaluate regarding consumer preferences, on the one hand, and technical feasibility and economics on the other. The challenge becomes making a sound decision about what colorants to choose to meet current demands for clean labels, while maintaining as much as possible the quality, safety, appearance, shelflife, and profitability of existing product formulations.