Beetroot extract could provide natural replacement for carmine: Synthite

By Nathan Gray

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Hue Cochineal Carmine

A newly developed natural food colouring made from beetroot extracts could be a solution to replacing carmine colours made from insects, according to ingredient producer Synthite.

The new natural pink colour, dubbed as a potential as replacer for carmine dyes, is made from a combination of beetroot extract and other natural botanical ingredients to provide a natural colour solution that is equally stable towards light and heat as carmine, and has no impact on flavour of the final product.

Geo George, of Synthite Natural Specialities told FoodNavigator that the new Necol pink range of carmine replacers are a blend of paprika and beetroot extracts, which perform well in tests of stability and colour compared to carmine.

“These are specifically designed for savoury and dairy applications and have excellent absorption characteristics,”​ he said.

He explained that the products were developed based on “the intense pull from the market,”​ noting that carmine which comes from cochineal insects are in short supply subject to price fluctuations, whilst many areas of industry are looking for a clean label solutions that are made with ingredients of 100% botanical origin.

Carmine issues

Carmine is a water insoluble colour dye used in a wide variety of food products including juices, ice cream, yogurt, and confectionery. Although principally a red dye, it is often used in the production of foods that are hues of red, pink, and purple.

Carmine is considered as one of the most stable natural colour in terms of light and heat, however supply issues over the last few years, leading to price pressures have lead some manufacturers to look for alternatives that achieve similar red hues in food and beverages.

In addition George noted that carmine has been known to cause severe allergic reactions in a small number of people; whilst the ingredient is also a concern for certain population groups that do not consume animal products, including vegans, vegetarians, and followers of certain religious diets.

Synthetic replacements are however an unattractive option for manufacturers, as consumer demands favour products with clean and natural labels.

George said that as the global market for natural food colours grows between 10 and 15% annually, more manufacturers will begin to look for new clean label solutions for their products.

Natural replacers

The new carmine replacer is produced using a thin film short path evaporator, which George said ensures a low temperature that does not affect the botanical ingredients during processing.

Manju Nair, from the technical team at Synthite explained to FoodNavigator that the newly developed product has the same colour hue of carmine, and when stored in ambient conditions, has a shelf life of 6 months.

Synthite said that the Necol range is stable up to 1600c for extended durations – making it suitable for high temperature processing, but noted that the stability of theproduct is also dependent on the delivery systems used and how the blend is incorporated into the final food matrix.

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