Judging by recent actions involving Mars, Inc., McLean, Va., the clean label trend may be hitting the confectionery category in the form of naturally-sourced colors.

In the Aug. 13, 2013, Federal Register, the Food and Drug Administration amended color additive regulations to provide for the use of a specific spirulina extract as a color additive in candy and chewing gum. The action came in response to a petition filed by Mars.

On Oct. 16, 2013, the Center for Science in the Public Interest announced that a new petition on change.org was asking Mars to stop coloring its products with petroleum-based
artificial food dyes. According to the petition, M&M’s in America contain the F.D.&C. colors blue 1, red 40, yellow 5 and yellow 6. The C.S.P.I. and Renee Shutters, a consumer in Jamestown, N.Y., sponsored the petition, which had more than 150,000 signatures by Jan. 8 of this year.

Mars and any other candy manufacturer wanting to replace blue 1 have several options. Naturally-sourced blue may be used to create more attractive green, purple or brown shades, according to Sensient Colors, L.L.C., St. Louis. Sources of blue are vegetable juice, spirulina and anthocyanins, said Rebekah Petges, technical support manager for Sensient Colors.

Formulators need blue, a primary color, to attain black colors, such as those found in licorice or icing, said Jennifer Brown, global applications scientist for D.D. Williamson, Louisville, Ky. Issues with heat and pH may appear when working with spirulina extract, said Campbell Barnum, global vice-president of sales and marketing for D.D. Williamson.

“Spirulina itself is not the most stable color,” Mr. Barnum said. “So, we are working on improvements.”

Spirulina is a concentrated extract of the dried biomass of Arthrospira platensis, said George Kean, Ph.D., director, R.&D., applied colors technology, for Kalsec, Inc., Kalamazoo, Mich. The microscopic blue-green algae contain three major pigments: chlorophyll, carotenoid-based pigments and phycocyanin, he said. When the pigments are combined, a distinct blue-green color is created.

“With the advent of spirulina as a color additive comes the opportunity for Kalsec to extend our color space by combining spirulina with other natural colors to obtain targeted green hues and other shades,” Dr. Kean said.

GNT USA, Tarrytown, N.Y., uses spirulina as a natural source for its blue color in the recently launched Exberry OD line of colors for chocolate applications, said Kelly Newsome, in corporate communications for GNT USA.

The Exberry OD line includes the blue color and also a red color derived from a variety of fruit and vegetable sources, she said.

“With those two colors, we can achieve a huge variety of color shades,” Ms. Newsome said.

Potential applications include coatings, chocolate bars, chocolate candies and hot chocolate.

Wild Flavors, Inc., Zug, Switzerland, sources fruit to create its naturally-derived blue color, which provides the foundation for other colors such as green and purple. Spirulina is available for certain applications.

While confectionery companies search for appropriate naturally-sourced colors, manufacturers of other foods and beverages may do likewise.

“Our feeling is consumers are not going to stop demanding clean label products, and they’re not going to stop reading ingredient statements,” Ms. Newsome said.

Of Sensient Colors’ global food sales in colors, naturally-sourced colors accounted for 55% in 2012, said Michael Geraghty, president of Sensient Colors. He added F.D.&C. colors still are growing in sales, too.

Ms. Brown said formulators may use naturally-sourced colors to get close to the same hue achieved with synthetic colors.

“The biggest thing is just the intensity of the colors we’re used to,” she said. “It’s difficult to get to with natural colors, and that’s really where the price comes into play, to get to that intensity.”

Innovations abound in color

Recent ingredient launches related to color have involved caramel and whey.

Chr. Hansen, which has a U.S. office in Milwaukee, now offers WhiteWhey, an alternative to annatto in such cheese types as cheddar and Gouda. By replacing annatto with beta-carotene-based WhiteWhey colors, cheese producers may experience an 85% to 95% reduction in color transfers to whey, a byproduct in cheesemaking, said Thomas Christensen, industry product manager, Natural Colors Division for Chr. Hansen.

Sensient Colors, L.L.C., St. Louis, has introduced Natural Brown, a platform that provides brown alternatives to caramel and certified colors. Multiple color delivery systems allow Natural Brown to meet production needs, including liquid, powder and dispersion forms. The colors are pH, light and heat stable.

Sethness Products Co., Skokie, Ill., has introduced P600. The dark, low-sulfite Class III powdered caramel color may be used to help formulators stay below the Food and Drug Administration labeling sulfite threshold of 10 parts per million (p.p.m.). Potential applications for P600 are meats, spice blends, cereal, baked foods, cocoa extenders, texturized vegetable protein (TVP) and hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP).

Replacing yellow 5, yellow 6 may require blends

Food manufacturers have stayed busy replacing yellow 5 and yellow 6 F.D.&C. colors recently. For example, have you heard any promotions for macaroni and cheese? New products under the Kraft, Annie’s and Horizon Organic brands have turned to naturally-sourced yellow and orange colors. Various sources, including carrots, pumpkins, annatto and turmeric, may serve as the color source.

Companies wishing to move away from yellow 5 and yellow 6 should know the two colors differ. Yellow 5 is a bright yellow. Turmeric and beta-carotene may replace it, said Emina Goodman, technical support manager, beverage and dairy group, for Sensient Colors, L.L.C., St. Louis. Annatto and beta-carotene may replace yellow 6, which is more orange, she said.

D.D. Williamson, Louisville, Ky., increased its ability to supply annatto extract last December when it acquired the food coloring product line and related processing equipment from Danisco USA, Inc., a part of DuPont Nutrition & Health. Annatto may be water-soluble or oil-soluble, said Jennifer Brown, global applications scientist for D.D. Williamson. Annatto works well in color blends, she said. Turmeric makes annatto more orange while paprika oleoresin makes it more orange.

Blends are useful since each color source has its own strengths and weaknesses.

“There is no perfect color,” said Campbell Barnum, global vice-president of sales and marketing for D.D. Williamson.

For example, Ms. Brown said turmeric is a “beautiful” replacer for yellow 5, but it has low light stability and may fade in hours. A beverage with turmeric coloring may need to come in a can or a pouch to protect the turmeric coloring, she said.

Kalsec, Inc., Kalamazoo, Mich., offers carotenes from carrot extract as replacements for yellow 5 and yellow 6.

“Yellow colors from carrot are the natural alternative to synthetic yellow 5,” said Carol Locey, product director of colors, for Kalsec. “With a slightly less green tone than yellow 5, food and beverage colors derived from the vegetable source carrot are ideal for use in nearly any application you can imagine requiring soft yellow to intense golden shades. The primary pigments in carrot are alpha and beta-carotene.”

Yellow 6 is more of an orange shade, she said.

“We match this hue with blends of carrot and oleoresin paprika, another naturally-derived food coloring,” Ms. Locey said.

Colors sourced from carrot may work in such applications as baked foods, margarine, confectionery, dairy, mustards, sauces and soups, Ms. Locey said.

GNT USA, Inc., Tarrytown, N.Y., offers a variety of naturally-sourced colors to replace yellow 5 and yellow 6, said Kelly Newsome, in corporate communications for GNT USA. For just two sourcing examples, the colors may come from vegetable juice or pumpkin concentrate. Potential applications include confectionery, ice cream, yogurt and beverages.

Watson, Inc., West Haven, Conn., featured Golden Glow blends and beta-carotene at the American Society of Baking’s BakingTech 2014 held in Chicago from March 2-4. They may work as alternatives for yellow 5 and yellow 6 in baked foods, fillings and frostings.


Penford Food Ingredients, Centennial, Colo., sources all its waxy corn from non-bioengineered crops, but not all waxy corn in the United States is non-bioengineered. An article pertaining to waxy corn and starch appeared on Page 28 in the Jan. 28 issue of Food Business News.