UK’s Food Standards Agency Publishes Guidance for Switching to Natural Colors

Transitioning your food or drink products from synthetic colorants to naturally-derived colorants just got easier.

Transitioning your food or drink products from synthetic colorants to naturally-derived colorants just got easier, thanks to new natural colors guidance published by the UK Food Standards Agency.

Synthetic colorants have remained a controversial subject ever since the publication of a 2007 Southhampton University study in which researchers concluded that consumption of certain synthetic colorants with the preservative sodium benzoate may cause hyperactivity in children.

As of July 2010, EU food and drink products manufactured with synthetic colorants have required mandatory warning labels reading “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.” A similar warning is not required on U.S. products, but concern around safety of certified synthetic dyes is receiving renewed attention.

The FSA’s free-to-access 38-page guidance (available to download here) offers detailed information on the capabilities and limitations of commonly used natural colorants; advice on how to deal with stability issues; regulatory understanding of how to use natural and synthetic colorants; comparisons of different delivery options (e.g. powders, liquids, and microencapsulation); and much more.

Detailed grids even break down ingredients and common food sources based on the color shades they can produce and how they can be labeled on an ingredients list.

With all the help this guidance provides for readers, companies are still encouraged to work closely with knowledgeable colorant suppliers.

The FSA is an independent UK government agency responsible for establishing food safety standards and helping local authorities enforce them.