Coloring foods especially for kids
Colors are a powerful motivator for young consumers, but you should paint their foods naturally.
“Parents are drawn by the high quality and nutritional value of our products, and children are excited to see them in their lunchbox because they taste great and are loads of fun,” says Randall Ius, president and founder. He also notes, “We went against the 16-oz. mentality with our 11-oz. bottle to allow for small portion size and price point appeal.”Purple carrots:
Both traditional breeding methods and genetic modification have helped develop vegetables with exotic colors, fewer calories and added health benefits.
Orange cauliflower and purple carrots promise more nutrients and fun plus good news for those who dread eating veggies (just a single, full-sized carrot more than fulfills an adult's daily quota of vitamin A).
“Carrots, the most important source of vitamin A for North American consumers, have been orange only for the last 400 years or so,” according to Sherry Tanumihardjo, University of Wisconsin researcher and assistant professor of nutritional sciences. She is trying to promote carrots that are red, yellow and even purple. “The new brightly colored purple varieties have water soluble pigments, so they turn your hands purple.”
|Traditional breeding methods and genetic modification have helped develop new kinds of vegetables with exotic colors, fewer calories, and added health benefits.|
The colors also add health benefits. The substances that make these colors are actually believed to be important for health. Orange cauliflower has about 25 times more vitamin A than white cauliflower, for example. Curing obesity, diabetes:
Anthocyanins, which are used as natural food colorants, are widely distributed in human diets, suggesting that we ingest large amounts of anthocyanins from plant-based foods. Japanese researchers recently demonstrated that anthocyanins may ameliorate high-fat, diet-induced insulin resistance in mice. Their findings provide a biochemical and nutritional basis for the use of anthocyanins as a functional food that may have benefits for the prevention of obesity and diabetes in humans.Colors that change and sparkle
There’s nothing like fun colors to get children to taste foods that they otherwise would hesitate to try. Tempting them are the brightest of reds, the friendliest of yellows and now even a bright and natural blue. That last one has been a holy grail, but Milwaukee-based Chr. Hansen (www.chr-hansen.com
) just released a new blue food color that is stable over a broad pH range 5.5 to 8.0.
“U.S. manufacturers have been requesting natural blue food color for a long time, and blue is the only color that has been lacking from the pool of natural colors,” says Annette MÃ¸llgaard, marketing manager for Chr. Hansen. “Everyone prefers natural ingredients in their food, especially when it comes to foods that are mostly consumed by children.” It comes as no surprise, then, that the formula for the natural blue colorant will be kept a secret.
“Children love playing with foods. And kids love bright colors and any food products that change color during preparation or consumption,” observes Penny Martin, North American manager of technical service at Sensient Food Colors NA, St. Louis (www.sensient.com
Color Changers from Sensient offer precisely that in a range of color systems specifically designed for dry mix applications. These colors exhibit one shade (such as yellow) when dry, then change to another color when hydrated â so colored foods change into different colors in the mouth.
Another fun colorant from Sensient is a line of brightly colored film particulates called Spectra Flecks. They enhance the visual appeal of a wide variety of food products such as coated confections, chewing gums, snack foods and popcorn.Fragility of natural colors
Despite all the virtues, natural colors at this point offer a limited range of colors and shades. Also, many of these additions have some fragility, often more than food formulators will encounter with synthetic ingredients. Extrapolation from one food system or formulation to another does not always work with natural colorants. It is important to test the colorant in each application and in each formulation to ensure shelf life stability and final product color.
Natural colors are susceptible to change from other ingredients. To minimize the effect of other ingredients in the formulation, determine if:
- Other ingredients in the formulation can potentially react with the color.
- Any ingredient contains ascorbic acid, which might affect the hue of the natural colorant.
- The formulation includes vitamins or salts that might discolor the final product.
- Flavors in the formulation have any components that might interact with or discolor the colorant.
- Microorganisms in the product might metabolize the colorant.
Collaborate with your vendor. Suppliers can help with antioxidants, emulsifiers and micro-encapsulation to protect the natural colorants from other reactive components in the system. Suppliers also can suggest ways to improve the stability of natural colors, which tend to fade or discolor over time.How FDA regulates
Food colorants are highly regulated ingredients. Of the 31 exempt colorants listed in 21CFR73, not all are permitted in human foods; some are allowed for animal feed only. Some are listed generically â such as fruit juice (21CFR73.250) and vegetable juice (21CFR73.260) â while others such as annatto extract (21CFR73.30) are specific. Despite being exempt from certification, these colorants must meet strict FDA specifications and are often limited to specific applications or at specific levels.