Thursday, May 2, 2013

Coloring Dairy Foods, Naturally

 Even though all M&Ms taste the same, many of us will select a specific color when given the option. Psychologists say that color choice has a subconscious meaning and is a reflection of our personality. Regardless if you agree or not, one thing I am sure we can all agree on is that colorful food has eye appeal.

In fact, numerous studies have shown that color cues for flavor. This is one of a number of reasons formulators have long added color additives to foods and beverages, including dairy. Other reasons include correcting natural variations in the actual color of certain ingredients and ensuring color during processing and storage.

(Photo source: D.D. Williamson)

If you need a refresher course on food color additive regulations in the States, scroll to the bottom of this blog, after the new product profiles for “Food Colors 101.”

Go Natural!
Here’s the deal on adding color to foods in 2013…and beyond. It’s all about using color additives referred to as “exempt from certification,” or more casually, “natural colors.” In fact, an increasing number of dairy processors are replacing artificial colors with natural ones because of the negative publicity surrounding artificial colors.

Artificial colors have been the cause of controversy since the 1970s, when a pediatrician first identified a correlation of intake to children’s behavior. They came under fierce scrutiny again in September 2007 after the results of a British study from the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom showed a correlation between artificial food colors and additives and exacerbated hyperactive behavior in children.

Referred to as the “Southampton Six,” the colors singled out for a connection to hyperactivity in children include these three synthetics approved for use in the States: Alurra Red (FD&C 40), Tartrazine (FD&C 5) and Sunset Yellow (FD&C 6). The other three of the Southampton Six--Ponceau 4R, Quinoline Yellow and Carmoisine--have long been banned by FDA.

Color suppliers offer an array of natural replacements for the Southampton Six, as well as the other FD&C colors used in the States. (See table.) Often times a natural substitute requires careful blending of exempt-from-certification colors, as well as some minor process and formulation modifications…but it can be done! And consumer studies show that phrases such as “contains no artificial colors” or “contains no additives” appeal to a growing number of consumers.

Many dairy processors, in particular cheesemakers, have long used natural colors to liven up their products. Most cheeses are naturally the color of milk (which can be very boring) unless they include microorganisms that contribute color. An example is the mold Penicillium glaucum, which creates blue veins in gorgonzola.

Cheesemakers often add the carotenoid annatto to cheese—natural, processed and even sauces—to give it that cheesy orange color consumers, for some reason, have come to expect in their cheese. Annatto has come a long way since that first graduated cylinder of annatto was poured into a vat of milk being cooked and on its way to becoming cheddar curd. Organic versions of annatto are now available, even in water-soluble powder form, for inclusion in cheese sauce mixes and toppings.

Many natural colors are available in organic formats. Natural colors can also be designed to be oil soluble, which has long been a challenge with using natural colors in higher-fat dairy foods, such as cream cheese, dips and spreads. Today, naturally derived, oil-dispersible hues are available in colors such as brown, yellow, red, orange and even pink.

There are so many natural coloring tricks available. What’s holding you back? Look who has gone natural.

New Dairy Products Using Natural Coloring

Unilever has been marketing Fruttare frozen novelty bars in various markets around the world for some time and finally decided to make the bars available in the States. Fruttare is composed of two different product lines. Fruit and Milk bars come in Banana, Coconut, Peach and Strawberry flavors. Fruttare Fruit and Juice Bars come in Lime, Mango, Orange and Strawberry flavors.
Three of the Fruit and Milk varieties use coloring to help better convey their flavor. Strawberry relies on beet juice concentrate and turmeric oleoresin; banana uses turmeric oleoresin and annatto extract; and peach includes annatto.  For more information, visit HERE.

As the only U.S. yogurt manufacturer to include vegetables in the variegate component of kids’ cup yogurt, Stonyfield shows us you can drink this great dairy + produce combo, too. New YoKids Smoothies start with a base of organic low-fat yogurt and blend in organic fruit and vegetable purees.

There are two flavor combinations and both include natural colors for visual appeal. Strawbana contains carrot, strawberry and banana purees. For color, radish and black currant juice concentrates are added. Very Berry contains sweet potato, raspberry
and strawberry purees, along with carrot juice concentrate.
For more information, visit HERE.

The cheese used to make new Mrs. Grissom’s Gourmet Smoked Gouda with Bacon Cheese Spread uses apo-carotenal to achieve its desirable cheesy hue.  For more information, visit HERE.

Dean Foods’ TruMoo Strawberry flavored milk uses beet juice powder to enhance the strawberry color.
For more information, visit HERE.

New Yoplait Greek Dippers with Nature Valley Crunchy Multigrain Chips consist of strawberry yogurt with honey and sea salt-flavored chips and honey vanilla yogurt with honey and sea salt-flavored chips. The strawberry variety declares on the ingredient statement that vegetable juice is used for color.

Stay tuned for more on this product when it is featured as a Daily Dose of Dairy.

Food Colors 101

The term color additive is legally defined in Title 21, Part 70 of the Code of Federal Regulations (21 CFR 70). Basically, any ingredient with the sole purpose of adding color to a food or beverage is a color additive, with all color additives requiring approval by FDA as a food additive.

In the U.S., synthetic food colors are classified by FDA as color additives subject to certification (21 CFR 74). They are certified with an FD&C number. This indicates that the additive has been tested for safety and is approved for used in foods, drugs and cosmetics, or FD&C. Seven colors were initially approved under the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. Over time, several have been delisted and replaced. Today there are still seven, which can be combined into an infinite number of colors; hence, the seven are considered primary colors.

The seven synthetics are further classified as standardized dyes or lakes. Dyes are a concentrated source of color and are water soluble and oil insoluble. Lakes, on the other hand, are made by combining dyes with salts to make them water-insoluble compounds. Thus, they are best described as providing color by dispersion. Lakes are considered to be more stable than dyes and are ideal for coloring products that either contain fat or lack sufficient moisture to dissolve dyes.

FDA also provides a list of color additives that are exempt from certification (21 CFR 73). By default, these colors are often characterized as natural but FDA does not consider any color added to as food unless the color is natural to the product itself. For example, consumers expect strawberry milk to have a red hue. If strawberry juice is added for color, and providing that none of the other ingredients in the milk were characterized as artificial, this product could be labeled “all-natural strawberry milk.” Such a description is not possible if beet juice, an FDA-recognized exempt-from-certification color additive, is used for a colorful boost. What is appropriate to say is “does not contain any artificial colors.”

In general, artificial colorings are manufactured from petroleum-based raw materials. Colors exempt from certification are obtained from a variety of sources, including plants, minerals, insects and fermentation, resources considered by many to be natural.

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