Coloring foods especially for kids
Colors are a powerful motivator for young consumers, but you should paint their foods naturally.
The Food and Drug Administration regulates colors based on their end use â food, drugs, cosmetics and medical devices â and divides food colors into two broad regulatory categories: certifiable and exempt from certification.
Certifiable colors are synthetic compounds with no natural counterparts. FDA lists only seven approved colors for general food use, and each batch of a certifiable color must be tested by FDA before it is approved for sale. The color then can be labeled as FD&C, meaning it is ready for use in food, drugs, or cosmetics.
Depending on their solubility, FD&C colors may be either dyes or lakes. Dyes are colors that have to be dissolved to function, while lakes are insoluble colors and are typically used in products with not enough moisture to absorb the dye, such as frosting, or in those where color migration would be a deterrent, such as Skittles or M&Ms.
The FDA exempts from certification and batch testing naturally derived colors -âsuch as those made from plants, fungi and even insects -- and also their synthetic versions. The synthetic version of yellow-orange colored carotene used to color food products is more economic despite their abundance in carrots. The regulations demand strictly controlled processing conditions and very high standards of purity.
Among those exempt from certification:Natural or exempt reds:
The FDA currently limits these to three main categories: 1. cochineal extract and carmine; 2. beet juice; and 3. anthocyanin-based colors such as fruit and vegetable juice concentrates, or grape skin or grape color extract. While this may sound like a wide range of options, each colorant category has inherent limitations.
Cochineal extract and carmine products are very versatile natural red colors and can yield orange to red to purple shades across the pH range of most food products (2.5 to 7.5). Their biggest drawback is they cannot be labeled kosher. Beet juice, excellent for low water activity foods, is not a viable option for beverages. Other anthocyanins, such as red cabbage juice, purple sweet potato, elderberry juice and black carrot juice, exhibit attractive red shades but are essentially limited to low pH foods such as beverages, fruit fillings, frozen fruit bars/frozen novelties and confections. These turn various shades of purple and blue at higher pH.Natural or exempt blues:
The FDA limits what can be used to create blue foods. Anthocyanins and stabilized anthocyanins, which currently are used to color foods blue, require careful pH control in the food system for color consistency. Chr. Hansen’s new blue has a huge potential to change this situation.Natural or exempt greens:
Despite the fact that chlorophyll is ubiquitous in nature, its use in foods is limited by the FDA to powdered citrus beverages only. Food scientists have yet to find a green fruit or vegetable juice that could meet the specifications outlined in CFR 21 Part 73.260 and 73.250 and still be able to impart a green color without imparting the “green” flavor.
Another peculiarity is the approach FDA uses for the qualifier “natural” for colorants. A colorant added to a food is not natural unless the color is natural to the food product itself. For example, strawberry juice would qualify as a natural colorant for strawberry ice cream but red beet color or juice would not for the same application.
|Variety affects how much one eats|
“Little-understood contextual cues such as variety of colors can lead people to overindulge,” says Brian Wansink, professor of marketing and nutritional science at the University of Illinois and the director of the Food and Brand Lab there (www.foodpsychology.com).
Wansink’s research shows, for example, that people offered six colored flavors of jellybeans mixed together in the same bowl ate 69 percent more than when the colors were placed in separate bowls. In another study, Wansink demonstrated that moviegoers given M&Ms in 10 colors ate 43 percent more than those offered the same number of M&Ms in just seven colors, implying that even the perception of variety stimulates how much a person consumes.