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Pure Appl. Chem., 2006, Vol. 78, No. 8, pp. 1477-1491

Carotenoids and other pigments as natural colorants

Alan Mortensen

Chr. Hansen A/S, Color Research, Development and Application, Bøge Allé 10-12, DK-2970 Hørsholm, Denmark

Abstract: Food colorants may be classified into synthetic, nature-identical, inorganic, and natural colorants. Natural colorants for food are made from renewable sources. Most often, the colorants are extracted from plant material, but other sources such as insects, algae, cyanobacteria, and fungi are used as well. Natural colorants are usually extracted and concentrated using either water or lower alcohols for water-soluble pigments and organic solvents for lipophilic pigments. Legislation restricts which colorants are allowed, what sources may be used for that particular colorant, what solvents may be used to extract it, and the purity of the pigment. Colorants are formulated to make them more suitable for a variety of foods and drinks (e.g., lipophilic pigments for use in beverages) and to increase their stability. The natural colorants allowed in the EU and the USA are presented. Many of these colorants are also allowed in most parts of the world. A few colorants that are not allowed in the EU and the USA, but are important food colorants in other parts of the world, are also presented.