New exempt colors continually enter the market. For example, mica-based pearlescent pigments, added to the list in 2006, were approved for limited applications, including confections and frostings, which are often used to decorate baked goods.

In early 2009, Suntava, Afton, MN, debuted a natural red color alternative to FD&C Red No. 40. Extracted from the company’s proprietary non-GMO purple corn hybrid, the water-soluble color qualifies as exempt from certification as a vegetable juice color additive. It provides vibrant color variation across the red spectrum and is consistent from crop to crop.

“Bakery and snack marketers are always looking for new innovative ways to present products,” said Rebekah Petges, technical support manager, baking and processed foods group, Sensient Colors LLC, St. Louis, MO. “We have developed a line of visual cues using natural colors to incorporate that extra ‘wow’ factor such as flecks and crystals that can be incorporated into baked items or icings to give a burst of color.”

Faith Carlson, R&D technician, QualiTech Co., Chaska, MN, added, “We offer strawberry-flavored particulates made with exempt colors. They have been successfully used in a frozen pancake application for public school food service programs. Because the pH of the batter can affect the color, as will exposure to light and temperature fluctuations, we had to lower the pH of the particulate and added an extra protective coating.”