Why Use Food Colors?

The use of natural and artificial colors is optional in food processing. However, the following reasons might be enough to irradiate the term “optional”.

empty liquid dye bottles

1) Imitate the shade of a similar product. Do you still remember the advertisement about banana and ketchup. Ripe banana was color yellow but banana ketchup was red. The spectators said, it was supposed to be yellow.

Banana ketchup without the red color looks disgusting. A slightly brown shade with numerous black specs. I think tomato ketchup became popular before the invention of banana counterpart. Masses expect a ketchup to be red so a banana ketchup should have a red tint.

2) Reinforce color due to too much dilution/concentration. Concentration process involves high heat and may damage color pigments. On the other hand, too much dilution results in a weak color shade. These problems are remedied by addition of appropriate colors.

3) Replace/reinforce color due to natural degradation. We tried making a red dragon fruit wine. Its beautiful red color disappeared after about one month of aging. Who’s gonna believed it’s a red dragon fruit wine? Convincing and explaining would be hard. Replacing the lost color was easier and more practical.

4) Make the appearance more delectable. The appearance of original seaweed gelatin is semi transparent white. Adding colors like red, yellow, orange and green make it more attractive and delectable.

5) Add variety and reduce boredom. Kaong meat and nata de coco are naturally semi transparent white. Sweetened versions also come  with the same shade. Some manufacturers tint them with different color shade. It adds variation and stimulate customers excitement.

6) Use of different variety. The regular ube (purple yam) versus the ubeng kalabaw (wild variety). The two varieties are both feasible for making ube haleya and related products. They exhibit the same taste properties except that ubeng kalabaw is slightly more chewy and has a dirty white shade. Color addition helps cover the noticeable difference.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

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