Color plays a significant role in our fascination with the natural world. Whether gazing at a stormy sky or closely examining an iridescent butterfly wing, the colors we see help to inform our understanding of the environment and its role in our survival.
Unlike synthetic food colors, which are created from non-edible materials, the pigments used in natural dyes and colorings come directly from plants, spices, microorganisms and minerals. They are extracted from their source via selective physical and chemical processing to produce concentrated colour shades that will work in a range of applications. By concentrating the pigments, Plant-Ex natural colours leave behind no flavors or nutritive elements, and are able to be used across a diverse range of foods, from beverages, bakery mix and confectionery, to extruded breakfast cereals, frosting, icing and chocolate coating, ice cream, noodle/pasta, smoked fish/meats and pet foods.
One of the challenges to using natural dyes and colorings is ensuring that they are stable enough to withstand the heat, light and acidic conditions that occur in production environments. Certain natural colors can change hue depending on the pH of the liquid they are added to, for example, anthocyanins from purple sweet potato or red cabbage will turn a pink color in acidic conditions and a blue color when exposed to low pH.
The good news is that many of the same benefits that are found in synthetic color additives are also present in natural ones, such as a rainbow of healthful vitamins and antioxidants. For this reason, some nutraceutical companies use natural color as functional ingredients, incorporating the chromophores into their products to deliver specific health benefits. The curcuminoids in turmeric, for instance, provide a bright yellow color as well as effective anti-inflammatory activity.