• Vaishnavi Phirke

Natural Colours to your Food

Updated: Mar 11

That tempting piece of red velvet cake sitting on the shelf of that cake shop always leaves your mouth watering, but where did that red colour to that cake come from? Have you ever wondered that? Is eating it even safe? That bright colour to that cake is provided by food colour.

Basically, food colour are additives in a food product added to give a distinct colour to the product irrespective of its nutritional value. These colour are obtained either from natural sources like leaves, flowers and minerals or can be produced by chemicals and called synthetic colour.

Few types of natural colours are as follows:

E160b- Annatto

The yellowish orange dye is found in the Bixin pigment found in the Annatto seeds on the tree of Bixa Orellana. They are found in the tropical regions of Centra and South America. The colour to the seeds comes from the Carotenoids compound found in the outer layer of the seed.

The seeds were vastly used by Latin Americans for dye as well as medicine due to its several health benefits like antioxidant and antimicrobial properties.

Apart from other uses such as Meat, Confectionary, Snacks, Bakery and Beverages it is mainly used to impart colour to oil-based products such as cheese, butter, margarine, fats etc.

E163- Anthocyanin

The purple red colour of this additive is obtained from various sources like Purple corn, Purple sweet potato, Black(purple) carrot and Grape skin extract.

Purple corn: - It is mainly cultivated in Peru. There is commonly used in the preparation of the drink called “Chicha Morada”. The extracts of the corn have a rich and deep shade of purple are commonly used in beverages, jellies and candies.

Purple sweet potato: - It is one of the go to extract as it provides a rich shades of pink, purple and violet with a neutral flavour. It also has a very good heat and light stability and is commonly used in Beverages, fruit bases, confectionaries and bakery products.

Black(purple) Carrot: - It is found in Turkey, Middle east and Asia. It is pH dependent and its shade is Red is acidic to purple to Blue in basic. It is commonly used in the production of beverages, yogurts, confectionaries, jellies and ice cream.

Grape skin extract: - It is a pure and natural source of water-soluble colour. It is also pH dependent and red in acidic to purple to blue in basic. It has excellent light and temperature stability. It is commonly used in beverages, frozen drinks, candies and imitation wine.

E162- Betanin

The Bright red colour is present in abundance in Beet root juice from where it is extracted. The colour is has a very high nutrient value. It’s colour shade is dependent on the pH. highly acidic the shade is bright bluish red, as the pH increases the shade changes to bluish violet. When it is alkaline the shade is rather starts fading and changes to yellowish brown.

It is easily soluble is water and is a light and temperature sensitive. Thus, it is used in fresh foods and food that don’t undergo heat treatment.

Unlike other red colour natural source these don’t have anthocyanin. It is stable at high sugar conditions and is used in powdered drinks, candies, fruit gels and fillings.

E100- Curcumin

It is bright yellow colour extracted from turmeric. Turmeric is a popular Indian spice with abundance of curcuminoid which imparts the yellow colour to the turmeric. Apart from the food colouring turmeric also has various medicinal and therapeutic values. It is pH dependent but a very stable compound with respect to light and temperature.

It is a widely preferred colour due to it bright hue in the production of Beverages, Condiments, Jams, Confectionaries, Dairy products, Dietary supplement, processed meat, vegetable, marmalades, jellies, ice cream, fillings etc.

E161b- Lutein

It is a Orangish yellow compound obtained from the flower of marigold. It is flower grown in the Mediterranean region and the extraction of chlorophyll from it gives the food dye. At low concentrations it appears to be yellow and at higher concentrations looks more orangish. Overall it is strong dye providing rich tinting colour even at low concentration.

Besides imparting colour it also has various medicinal values and thus used in pharmaceuticals. It is also used to impart colour to drinks, dairy products, beverages, ice cream etc.


The blue green colour of phycobilin is extracted from the Spirulina algae that naturally occurs in freshwater. The colouring agent of spirulina is phycobilin which on extraction can give various shades of blue. It can give a brilliant blue hue thus can be used to replace synthetic blue dyes in the market by providing a natural alternative. It is considered as a food ingredient in Europe and not an additive thus doesn’t have an E no.

It is commonly used as colour additive in candies, chewing gums, Confectionary, Yogurt, Ice cream, Gelatin, Puddings, Desserts etc.

E141- Chlorophyllin

It is a derivative of Chlorophyll which is a green pigment produced by every green plant. The green food colour is especially extracted from Medicago sativa, Urtica dioica, Grasses and Algae. The colour is water soluble and can be easily used.

It is a natural source of vibrant green colour readily added in food products. It is stabilized by copper which further enhances the brightness of the green colour imparted to the product. It has good stability in light and temperature variations.

It is commonly used to impart colour to Drinks, Ice cream, Candy, Cheese, sauce pasta, pickles, lollipops and popsicles.

E153- Vegetable Carbon

It is a greyish black colour obtained from burning vegetable materials like nutshells and wood. It is activated charcoal commonly known as vegetable black and is currently is great trend due to the increase in demand of black hued food products to add drama.

It is mainly used to impart colour to Confectionaries, bakery product, cheese coating, Pharmaceuticals, candies etc.

For further information regarding the products at Chemvera you can get in touch at nutrafoods@chemvera.com

Recent Posts

See All