The food and beverage ‘color house’ compared the color retention qualities of various natural colors (including various types of annatto extract, turmeric oleoresin, caramel color and beta-carotene) in a sugar cookie system and two cracker systems – both laminated and soda.
36 samples were tested under both accelerated and frozen conditions: the eight weeks under accelerated conditions were equivalent to a year on the shelf, the frozen samples acted as a control.
Annatto, caramel and turmeric perform well
Katie Queen, associate application scientist at D.D Williamson, who works in the The Color House at DDW’s Global Support Center in Kentucky, told BakeryandSnacks.com that annatto and caramel coloring held up the best, while turmeric also performed fairly well.
Discussing the company’s research findings, Queen said: “One of the challenges with natural colors is that they don’t always react in a ‘common sense’ kind of way.”
“One of the surprises in this study was that actually reducing the amount of color in certain baked goods actually decreased the amount of color change we saw over time,” she added.
“Generally, the rule is that color protects color, but that was not necessarily what we saw here. We think it may be related to the fat content within the baked goods system, but further testing would need to be done to confirm this,” Queen said.
‘Study helps us better recommend stable natural colors’ – Katie Queen, DDW
As for how Queen believes this research will help the bakery and snacks industry: “With the food industry in general moving away from FD&C colors*, we see this study as a way to help us better recommend which natural colors would be most stable in the bakery and snack industry.
“For example, there are several forms of annatto available (water versus oil soluble versus suspensions), so we now have a little more data to back up the recommendations we make to customers on a daily basis,” she said.
Specific formulation recommendations required more precise application work, Queen added, when asked if she could provide more detail on them.
“Natural colors can work in slightly different ways in the same kind of application – i.e. not all cookie recipes are created equal,” she said.
*FD&C Colors are synthetic dyes that do not exist in nature, which are certified by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for use in food, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and personal care products.