A glance at the future for natural food dyes

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 24th September 2009

Colour plays a crucial role in the way consumers taste and perceive the food they eat but what will the future look like for natural food colours given the uproar about artificial colourings in recent years?

In the October 2009 issue of Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, an article discusses the rooted history of food colouring and looks into the future of the food industry’s move toward all-natural food colouring.


The article showed the history of food colouring regulations could be traced back to the early 1800s when English chemist Friedrich Accum released a publication that listed the countless examples of foods that contained poisonous dyes and chemicals that masked the true nature of the product. It wasn’t until 1938, however, that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) passed the first version of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, which included an entire section on the regulation of colour additives.

Natural food colours have long faced criticisms that they are more expensive, less consistent and less potent than artificial alternatives. However, as the list of approved artificial colours has diminished under increased regulation by the FDA, manufactures have devoted more time and resources to developing natural colour additives.


Demand for natural food colouring has been growing, sparked by a general demand among consumers for all-natural products. As the food industry works with the health industry, the use of natural colours will become more prevalent, the research concludes, not only for colour but also for properties that could benefit for the health of children and adults.

The food industry currently sees a trend toward natural food products; however, synthetic colours will continue to play a role while the FDA and the food industry continue research in natural food colouring.

To read the report click here.