Food colouring, or colour additive, come in many different forms such as liquids, powders, gels, and pastes. Food colours are also used in a variety of non-food applications including cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, home craft projects, and medical devices
How are the colours made ?
There are some natural food colours and also synthetic one as well . These are examples of natural colours, carotenoids (orange), chlorophyllin (green), anthocyanins (purple) and betanin (red), and they are mostly extracted from fruit and vegetables.
Synthetics colours like sunset yellow, brilliant blue and allura red, are manufactured by numerous processes of chemical reactions. Chemically generated food colouring is made from petroleum. These artificial colours are listed in a product’s ingredients, usually as numbers.
When you are looking at artificial colours in a product the following numbers will be shown in the ingredients list:
- Yellows — 102, 104, 107, 110
- Red — 122-129
- Blues – 131, 132, 133
- Green — 142
- Black — 151, 153
- Browns 154, 155
Although artificial colours are chemically produced in a lab, less is used when it’s added to food products compared to natural food colours.
Natural food colouring is derived from plant and animal pigments:
- Annatto (orange-red) — E160b
- Betanin (red) — E162 (derived from beetroot)
- Butterfly pea (blue)
- Caramel colouring — E150
- Carotenes (red-orange) — E160a
- Chlorophyll — E140 and Chlorophyllin — E141
- Carmine/cochineal (red) — E120 (derived from cochineal insect)
- Cyanidin (red-purple) — E163a (derived from berries and purple cabbage)
- Delphinidin (blue-red) — E163b
- Elderberry juice (red-purple-blue)
- Malvidin (red-blue) — E163c (derived from red grapes, berries and black rice)
- Pandan (green)
- Paprika (red) — E160c
- Pelargonidin (orange) — E163d (derived from berries, pomegranate and plums)
- Petunidin (dark red-purple) — E163f
- Saffron (yellow) — E164
- Titanium dioxide (white) — E171
- Turmeric (yellow) — E100
Which Food Dyes should you Avoid ?
The best way is to look at the listing of actual ingredients. If you see any of the food additives listed, avoid that product!
Blue #1 (Brilliant Blue):
Found in baked goods, beverages (soda or sports), dessert powders, lollies, cereal, drugs, and chewing gum. Blue #1 exposure may resulted in kidney tumours
Blue #2 (Indigo Carmine):
As with Blue #1, it’s found in coloured beverages, candy, and drugs. But it can also be found in processed food and pet food. Studies have suggested that it has carcinogenic effects when tested in research studies and can worsen hyperactivity in children . Some people also experience allergic reactions to Blue #2.
Green #3 (Fast Green):
Often found in personal care products, beauty products, cosmetic products (accept in cosmetics used the eye area), lollies, coloured beverages, ice cream, lipstick, and drugs. This is a known carcinogen that’s banned in Europe, but still allowed by the FDA.
Red #3 (Erythrosine):
Often found in sausage casing, oral medication, maraschino cherries, baked goods, and lollies. The FDA recognized Red #3 as a thyroid carcinogen in animals.
Red #40 (Allura Red):
This is the most used and consumed artificial dye. It’s usually found in coloured beverages, baked goods, dessert powders, candy, cereal, processed food, drugs, and cosmetics. Red #40 contains p-Cresidine which is a human carcinogen according to the USDA
Yellow #5 (Tartrazine):
Found in a large range of baking goods, coloured beverages, dessert powders, lollies, cereal, gelatin desserts, drugs, and cosmetics. Studies have shown yellow #5 can cause hyperactive behavior in some children. Animal studies link it to decreased sperm counts.
Yellow #6 (Sunset Yellow):
Often found in coloured baking goods, cereal, beverages, lollies, gelatin desserts, sausage, cosmetics, and drugs. This is considered to be the most harmful of food dyes. yellow #6 is heavily correlated with hyperactivity, and some people experience allergic reactions to the dye. Yellow #6 is banned for consumption by the British Food Standards.