Why Use Colors?

Food color is of great benefit to both consumers and processors, an integral part of culture and the enjoyment of life as well as an important property of foods that adds to our enjoyment of eating. Nature teaches us early to expect certain colors in certain foods, and our future acceptance of foods is highly dependent on meeting these expectations.

Colors have been used throughout recorded history. Foods have been colored with spices and minerals such as paprika, turmeric, saffron, iron oxides. Wine has been artificially colored since at least 300 B.C. Cosmetics originated from vegetable and mineral sources, such as kohl, copper ore for eye shadow, and vegetable extracts for the skin.

Color variation in foods throughout the seasons and the effects of food processing and storage often require that manufacturers add color to certain foods in order to meet consumer expectations.

Why are colors used?

  • To offset color loss due to exposure to light, air, temperature extremes, moisture and storage conditions
  • To protect flavors and vitamins that may be affected by sunlight during storage
  • To correct natural variations in color as off-colored foods are often incorrectly associated with inferior quality
  • T0 enhance colors that occur naturally but at levels weaker than those usually associated with a given food
  • To provide a colorful identity to foods that would otherwise be virtually colorless
  • To enhance the flavor expectations of food
  • To help identify pharmaceuticals and reduce medication errors
  • To provide an appealing variety of wholesome and nutritious foods that meet consumer demands
  • To provide a colorful appearance to certain “fun foods” like candies and holiday treats