Carmine is made from carminic acid, produced from the ground bodies of cochineal insects, primarily grown on South American cactus. It is known to cause rare but potentially severe allergic reactions in some people, including anaphylaxis, but as a certification-exempt color additive, food manufacturers have been able to list it as ‘color added’.
However, from January 5, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will require manufacturers to call it out on ingredient statements as ‘carmine’ or ‘cochineal’, leading some food and beverage manufacturers to consider alternatives.
The coloring is currently used in a variety of products such as ice creams, yogurts, fruit drinks, alcoholic drinks and candy products, to which it brings a characteristic pink, red or purple color.
Kalsec said that its black carrot extract could help manufacturers deal with pricing and supply issues for carmine.
“Synthetic replacements are no longer an attractive option as the global market demand is driving toward clean and natural labeling in the food and beverage industry,” the company said.
Kalsec said that natural colors, like its black carrot and paprika extracts, can provide natural alternatives for hues associated with carmine ranging from pink to red in some foods and beverages.
“Black carrot is often an appropriate replacement when a pink to red hue is desired,” the company said.
However, the pink shade of carmine – generally sold as 52 percent pigment as a water insoluble color for confectionery, dairy products, dry seasoning and baked goods – is difficult to match, Kalsec said, and the company recommends that manufacturers work together with their color supplier to determine the best possible carmine replacement.
Kalsec is not alone in offering alternatives to carmine and cochineal extracts. At the recent IFT expo in Chicago, for example, coloring supplier DD Williamson showcased its natural hue alternatives based on purple sweet potato, paprika, red beet, and custom blends.