A food coloring is any substance that is added to food or drink to change its color. Food coloring is used both in commercial food production and in domestic cooking. Due to its safety and general availability, food coloring is also used in a variety of non-food applications, for example in home craft projects and educational settings.
While most consumers are aware that foods with bright or unnatural colors (such as the green ketchup mentioned above or children's cereals such as Froot Loops) likely contain food coloring, far fewer people know that seemingly "natural" foods such as oranges and salmon are sometimes also dyed to mask natural variations in color. Color variation in foods throughout the seasons and the effects of processing and storage often make color addition commercially advantageous to maintain the color expected or preferred by the consumer. Some of the primary reasons include:
Most other countries have their own regulations and list of food colors which can be used in various applications, including maximum daily intake limits.
Natural colors are not required to be tested by a number of regulatory bodies throughout the world, including the United States FDA. The FDA lists "color additives exempt from certification" for food in subpart A of the Code of Federal Regulations - Title 21 Part 73 However, this list contains substances which may have synthetic origins.
To ensure reproducibility, the colored components of these substances are often provided in highly purified form, and for increased stability and convenience, they can be formulated in suitable carrier materials (solid and liquid).
The above are known as "Primary Colors", when they are mixed to produce other colors, those colors are then known as "Secondary Colors".
Dyes dissolve in water, but are not soluble in oil. Dyes are manufactured as powders, granules, liquids or other special purpose forms. They can be used in beverages, dry mixes, baked goods, confections, dairy products, pet foods and a variety of other products. Dyes also have side effects which lakes do not, including the fact that large amounts of dyes ingested can color stools.
Lakes are the combination of dyes and insoluble material. Lakes tint by dispersion. Lakes are not oil soluble, but are oil dispersible. Lakes are more stable than dyes and are ideal for coloring products containing fats and oils or items lacking sufficient moisture to dissolve dyes. Typical uses include coated tablets, cake and donut mixes, hard candies and chewing gums, lipsticks, soaps, shampoos, talc etc.
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