“Natural Color Approval Process in the U.S.” was presented at the 2015 Clean Label Conference by Ray Matulka, Ph.D., Director of Toxicology, Burdock Group.
Abstract: Synthetic coloring agents used in foods have recently come under fire for having potentially negative effects on adults and, especially, children. However, although consumers in the U.S. still want the vibrant, bold color effects that synthetic coloring agents provide in order to mimic the idealized appearance of freshly harvested produce, consumers also stipulate that colors should have the vague quality of being “minimally processed.” Industry has renewed its search to find suitable natural colors; using more modern techniques; re-examining old sources; and looking new sources of color. But finding new colors is only half the battle. Before an ingredient can be used to color a food, rigorous and sometime not-well-understood requirements must be met, among them the demonstration of safety. Attendees learned the regulatory definitions of different colors approved for use in the U.S.; the regulatory process to obtain approval to use naturally-sourced coloring agents in the U.S. market; and examples of some recently-approved food colors. These processes critically impact available ingredient options for food use and product labeling requirements that, in turn, influence a product’s marketplace success.
An excerpt from the written summary of this presentation: Colors are classified as either “certified” (synthetic) or “exempt from certification.” Nine certified food colors were approved for use in the U.S. and require batch testing to ensure safety. The exempt colors are derived from natural sources, such as vegetables, animals or minerals. Generally, they have clean-sounding names; do not require batch testing; and are often times thought of as “natural.”
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