Farewell Artificial Food Coloring: More Companies Switching to Plant-Based Hues
The first time I remember thinking critically about processed foods and artificial coloring was when a certain condiment company released a line of brightly colored ketchups, including blue and purple. Now, I was still learning a lot about the world back then, but I was sure that blue tomatoes did not occur in nature. For decades, manufacturers have been relying on artificial food coloring to entertain and draw in consumers – especially children… that is, until now.
Carol Culhane, president of International Food Focus Limited, is reporting that the demand for artificial colors has been on the decline since 2007, when a study linking the chemicals to hyperactivity in children was released. Despite the findings being statistically insignificant, she says more and more companies are switching over to more natural, plant-based alternatives.
Deriving color from plants is nothing new, but it is also not as cheap as mass-producing identical hues using predictable chemicals. Using plants which operate by Mother Nature’s rules is a whole new process for big companies who rely on stability in marketing. Some companies are extracting vibrant colors from beets, red cabbage, grapes, turmeric, and carrots.
Some food colorings are technically of “natural” origin, yet originate from cochineal or carmine (red hue from ground up Dactylopius coccus bugs) or castoreum (secretion from the castor sacs of beavers for vanilla flavoring and red coloring) and are very un-vegan. It is refreshing to see many mainstream companies, including Kraft, Panera, General Mills, and Nestle remove artificial flavors from their products. Hopefully more and more companies will opt for more fruit and vegetable based dyes and colorings soon.
Photo credit: Flickr (Le living and co)