So Why Do We Need To Switch? In 2007 a study was published by researchers from Southampton University on the effect of a combination of certain artificial food colours and sodium benzoate on childhood behaviour. The study supported a possible link between the consumption of these artificial colours and a sodium benzoate preservative and increased hyperactivity in children.
These azo-dyes have become known as the ‘Southampton 6’ colours
Sunset Yellow FCF (E110) Carmoisine (E122) Quinoline Yellow (E104) Allura Red (E129) Tartrazine (E102) Ponceau 4R (E124)
A European Union-wide compulsory warning must now be put on any food and drink product that contains any of these six colours: ‘May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children’
Consumer Trends Healthy Eating Fewer Chemicals in Food & Drink Natural not Artificial A Move away from E Numbers “Contains no Artificial Colours” So it’s easy to switch, Right?
WRONG! Research & Development Departments can make many costly trials before finding an adequate solution
The 5 Main Problems 1.Brightness 2.Price 3.Stability 4.Shelf Life 5.Supply So it’s virtually impossible, Right?
NO! ‘Education and Understanding’: Keys to a Successful Switch
1. Brightness No, natural colours are usually not as bright. Consumers are beginning to understand that a softer, slightly duller shade of colour means natural! Basically if the product glows like a glow-worm in the dark it’s probably artificial!
2. Price Yes, your unit cost is going to increase, but by how much in real terms? Even if these natural colours are twenty times more expensive than artificial or synthetic, let’s look at the quantity being used in the production of one finished product…
2. Price Some natural colours can be used at a lower dosage than their synthetic counterparts, but it is the actual percentage used in the finished product that is important. A natural red colour made from Purple Sweet Potato for example can have a typical usage level of 0.01% - 0.1%.
2. Price This means that the other ingredients make up 99.99% - 99.9% of the finished consumer item. Is the switch to natural really going to impact that much on the cost?
3. Stability Light stability Heat stability Suitable pH range These are not the only things to consider, but can generally help make the correct natural colour source selection in 95% of cases.
4. Shelf Life So change your purchasing method. If you are buying 2 years stock of synthetic colours each time you purchase, just understand that you can’t do this with naturals and purchase just three month’s requirements at a time.
5. Supply There is not a lot that anyone can do about a world shortage of a certain raw material, but when using natural colours it is always a good idea to establish a potential alternative natural colour, ‘just in case!’
5. Supply For the last year there has been a world shortage of natural red from grape skin extract due to the very poor crop last year. For many manufacturers it was ‘back to the drawing board’ as supply of grape skin suddenly virtually stopped.
Let’s examine some of the more popular natural colours used in the Food & Drinks industry
Reds Anthocyanins Other Natural Reds Purple Sweet Potato Red Cabbage Black / Purple Carrot Grape Hibiscus Elderberry Radish Chokeberry (Aronia) Red Beet Carmine / Cochineal Paprika (Red Pepper) Lycopene Sandalwood Cactus Pear (Prickly Pear)
Anthocyanins Red Cabbage Black / Purple Carrot Elderberry Purple Sweet Potato Grape Skin / JuiceRadish Hibiscus Chokeberry (Aronia)
Other Natural Reds Red Beet Carmine / Cochineal Paprika (Red Pepper) Lycopene Red Sandalwood Cactus Pear (Prickly Pear)
Oranges Beta Carotene Annatto Lutein Paprika Canthaxanthin (restricted use in the EU) Carrot Colour Safflower Pumpkin Carminic Acid
Yellows Curcuma (Turmeric) Carrot Colour Saffron Safflower Annatto Lutein Lemon Beta Carotene Gardenia (very restricted use in the EU)
Blues and Greens Spirulina Chlorophyllin Alfalfa
E Numbers The manufacturer switches from artificial colours to natural colours So no more E Numbers, right? WRONG!
E Numbers Natural colours and artificial colours are all mixed in together on the same list! EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) still doesn’t understand the public’s desire to move away from artificial / chemical products!
E Numbers - Examples Red Colours CodeName(s)ColourNatural? E120Cochineal, Carminic acid, CarmineCrimsonYes E121Citrus Red 2Dark red E122Carmoisine (azorubine)Dark red E123AmaranthDark red E124Ponceau 4RRed E125Ponceau SX, Scarlet GNRed E126Ponceau 6RRed E127ErythrosineRed E128Red 2GRed E129Allura Red ACRed E160cPaprika oleoresin, Capsanthin, capsorubinRedYes E160dLycopeneBright to deep redYes E162Beetroot Red, BetaninRedYes E163Anthocyanins pH dependent (Red, green and purple ranges) Yes
E Numbers - Examples Yellow Colours CodeName(s)ColourNatural? E100Curcumin (from turmeric)Yellow-orangeYes E101Riboflavin (Vitamin B 2 ), formerly called lactoflavinYellow-orangeYes E101aRiboflavin-5'-PhosphateYellow-orangeYes E102TartrazineLemon yellow E104Quinoline Yellow WSDull or greenish yellow E105Fast Yellow ABYellow E106Riboflavin-5-Sodium PhosphateYellowYes E110Sunset Yellow FCFYellow-orange E164SaffronYellow-orange-redYes
E Numbers – and the EU European Union (EU) legislation requires most additives used in foods to be labelled clearly in the list of ingredients, with their function, followed by either their name or E number. An E number means that it has passed safety tests and has been approved for use in the EU.
E Numbers – and the EU Labelling - 2 different reds: 1. Synthetic Chemical Red: “Colour: E127 (Erythrosine)” 2. Natural Black Carrot: “Colour: E163 (Anthocyanin)”
E Numbers – and the EU I won’t buy. It has E Numbers! No compro. Contiene números E Non compro. Contiene i numeri di E Je n'achète pas. Contient les numéros E Ich kaufe nicht. Enthält Numbers E Δεν αγοράζω. Περιέχει Αριθμοί E Eu não compro. Contém Números E To neberu. Obsahuje čísly E
E Numbers – and the EU With current EU regulation, the average European shopper needs a degree in chemistry before going to the supermarket!!
E Numbers – and the EU We just want to know if it’s artificial or natural!!
E Numbers – and the EU So how can we switch to natural colours and avoid listing E Numbers? Take advantage of a loophole!
E Numbers – and the EU If the colour comes from an EXTRACT you must put the E Number and the name. If the colour comes from a CONCENTRATE you can put “Fruit / Vegetable Concentrate”.
E Numbers – and the EU Black Carrot Extract: “Colour: E163 (Anthocyanin)” Black Carrot Concentrate: “Vegetable Concentrate Black Carrot”
E Numbers – and the EU Nestlé UK have shown the way forward. The Daily Mail Newspaper reported in March 2012:
“Nestlé has become the first (UK) major confectioner to remove artificial colours, flavours and preservatives from its entire range.” “In total, more than 80 ingredients have been replaced with alternatives, mostly from natural sources such as carrot, hibiscus, radish, safflower and lemon.”
“Sugar, Cocoa butter, Skimmed milk powder, Cocoa mass, Wheat flour, Lactose and proteins from whey, Butterfat, Rice starch, Emulsifier (Sunflower lecithin), Fruit and vegetable concentrates (Safflower, Radish, Black carrot, Lemon, Hibiscus, Red Cabbage), Spirulina concentrate, Orange oil, Glazing agents (Carnauba wax, Beeswax), Natural vanilla flavouring, Invert sugar syrup.” SMARTIES – by Nestlé UK Ingredients: