What is a natural color?

There is no legal definition for a natural color. FDA classifies color additives as those (1) requiring certification, and those (2) not requiring certification. The latter colorants are listed in the Federal Register 21 CFR 73 and contain those colorants the food industry recognizes as "natural." Consequently, the precise definition of natural is something which each company must work out for itself. Many have, as "natural" has strong appeal to the consumer and therefore is of economic value to the processor. At ColorMaker we believe a colorant is natural if it exists in nature, be it agricultural, biological or mineral in form. It must, of course, be one of the FDA approved color additives and have a long history of safe usage.

Is there a natural green?

There is a chemically modified natural extractive from green leafy raw materials (i.e., grass), called sodium-copper-chlorophyllin, available in Europe and provides a bright green hue. This colorant or other chlorophyll extractives are not approved for use in the US. Approval has not been granted only because no one has petitioned FDA for it. We have learned that a company based in England has petitioned FDA and we await FDA's response. In the interim, ColorMaker has developed a green as a blend of anthocyanin blue and turmeric yellow. It is functional only in neutral pH products.

Can ColorMaker supply Kosher Carmine?

Carmine (and all other derivatives from the cochineal insect) will not be certified by Orthodox Rabbinical Organizations. Unless the kosher laws change, carmine is not a kosher ingredient.

How are natural colorants declared in the ingredient statement?

ColorMaker recommends that each company review a proposed ingredient statement with their legal counsel. Generally, two approaches are followed with colorants exempt from certification. First, colorants are not individually listed but grouped under the phrase "colors added." This is allowed but some companies prefer to parenthetically list the colorants used. For example: “color added (annatto and carmine)”. The second approach is to list the individual colorants and add an explanatory parenthetical phrase. For example: “turmeric, paprika and caramel (for color)”. What is not allowed is solely stating, "natural color added."

Can ColorMaker supply both "certified" and "non-certified" colorants?

ColorMaker specializes in non-certified "natural" colorants and can supply them in a variety of forms, dilutions, and blends. It can, however, supply any colorant approved or not approved for use in the US.

What is the kosher status of ColorMaker's products?

ColorMaker is certified by Louisville Vaad Hakashruth. Most of our products are made with kosher ingredients and under rabbinical supervision.

What are "nature identical" colors?

Not all "natural colors" are extracts from natural sources. A small number of FDA’s non-certified colorants are prepared synthetically. These colorants cannot be distinguished from their naturally extracted counterparts. The exactness of the chemical makeup of the synthetic colorants frustrated government regulators as they could not determine through testing, the true source of the colorant. Thus the term "nature identical" was introduced for these colorants. Beta carotene is a typical example.

What is a Lake?

This is a technical term that applies to an insoluble form (often referred to as a pigment), of a soluble dye. Carmine is a good example of a lake form of a natural colorant, cochineal.

What forms of annatto are available from ColorMaker?

ColorMaker has oil soluble and water soluble annatto in the form of bixin or nor-bixin containing liquids and powders. It can prepare various dilutions of either form to the customer’s precise needs.

How stable is beet juice extract?

Stability of beet juice extract is a function of the food system to be colored. In frozen desserts, it has very good stability. On the other hand, beet juice will be destroyed quickly within a retorted product. With system compatibility, beet juice extract can provide long term functionality.

Are there storage conditions to be followed with natural colors?

It is recommended that all natural colorants be stored in closed containers in a dark cool area. If possible, refrigeration is best.

Is titanium dioxide considered a natural color?

The answer will depend on your definition of "natural." Some argue that if the colorant is not extracted from an agricultural or biological source, the colorant is not natural. Others argue that any material taken from natural sources that imparts color, including minerals, are natural. ColorMaker falls into the latter camp.

What is meant by E-numbers for natural colors?

E-numbers are used in Europe to identify approved colorants and to assure that each meets a specific, multi-country product specification.

What is meant by straight colors?

This term is mostly used when dealing with certified colors. At times, this term spills over into the natural color lexicon. It means a pure color with no other coloring material added, i.e., not a color blend.

Why are natural colors not allowed in meat products?

This is a protective regulation enforced by USDA to discourage the use of colorants to disguise or improve the appearance of low quality or even spoiled meats.

Can exempt colorants be used in cosmetic products?

CFR21, Part ___ lists the approved colorants for use in cosmetics. These include annatto, caramel, beta carotene and carmine. A quick review of cosmetic products on the retail shelf leads one to conclude that the industry has taken the position that if a colorant is allowed in food (ingested), it must be safe in a topical application. It appears that the answer to this question lies primarily with your legal counsel.

What colorants are allowed for pharmaceutical products?

CFR21, Part ____ lists approved colors which include annatto, caramel, beta carotene and carmine. The “natural product industry”, however, is not regulated by FDA and thus exercises a broader use of certified colorants, and at times, in excessive amounts for medicinal claims, i.e., turmeric.

What if I cannot supply ColorMaker with color target or an uncolored product sample for color their blend development work?

ColorMaker will always test color blends developed in their laboratory in simulated product systems. Their experience is utilized to mimic what they believe the customer wants colored. They also use experience to select a hue which they think best satisfies the customer request. The customer must recognize that the color blend was built on “best guess” and could be way off mark. This negative can be turned positive by reviewing the client’s results, since both ColorMaker and they will be viewing the same end result and can therefore communicate the target more clearly. Understandably the project will recycle until solved.?

What steps are taken to assure product quality and product safety?

Our blends are compliant with worldwide regulations.

Can natural colorants replace FD&C colorants?

ColorMaker has been successful in replicating Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 for water-based systems. We have been able to mimic the hue in powder form for dry beverages and for direct compression tableting. We have developed a water-soluble blue in a liquid or powder form but this is not of the same hue as Blue 1. All anthocyanin based blue have a grey under-tone and are pH sensitive. Some of the basic colors, such as turmeric, annatto and carmine can be used as lakes, but can only come close in hue to the FD&C lakes. In some product systems a purple (mimicking Red 40 plus Blue 1) can be achieved but we recommend that product stability testing be done to assure attainment of satisfactory shelf life.

ColorMaker, Inc. regularly updates our "Frequently Asked Questions." Please do not hesitate to ask your questions by phone, fax or e-mail at the numbers listed in this site. We do our best to answer all your questions!






Personal Care


Food & Nutrition