Natural Orange and Blue for Beverages

May 2016

Previously, finding suitable natural replacements for Yellow #6 in beverages was challenging due to flavor off-notes, instability and simple ingredient label requirements. Standard Paprika provided the perfect ‘true orange’ shade but unfortunately produced flavor off-notes not acceptable for beverage taste profiles. Likewise, a Beta Carotene and Anthocyanin blend will produce the optimal color but due to the Anthocyanin’s sensitivity to ascorbic acid is unstable in highly acidic beverages. Lastly, Beta Apo-8 is a perfect match to Yellow #6 but isn’t a natural carotenoid, which can be an issue depending on the brand’s view of simple ingredient labeling.

Similarly, a natural replacement for Blue #1 has been missing from the food color crayon box until recently. The main issue being that there are very few naturally occurring sources of blue. Spirulina, while providing a beautiful blue shade, is not optimal for beverage because it does not perform well in high-water applications, low pH systems or heat processing.

Beverage stability is based on the following:

• Amount of color being used

• Other ingredients in the product base

• Level of heat and light exposure

For example, carotenoids thrive in ascorbic acid while other botanicals become unstable in highly acidic products. This can be tricky because many beverage brands make a claim of ‘Vitamin C added’. Those who make that claim need to overshoot the amount of ascorbic acid included to compensate for the loss of Vitamin C due to light instability over normal shelf life.

The following two novel solutions are available, addressing the need for natural orange and blue in beverage.

Sensient Pure-S™ Orange is a perfect natural match for Yellow #6, providing a deep orange shade in clear beverages such as sport drinks, juices, water enhancers, and carbonated soft drinks. It employs both Advance Emulsion Technology (AET) and a purification technology to remove off-notes. Pure-S is heat and light stable, maintaining its vibrant shade throughout processing and extended shelf-life above the average of 6 – 9 months. This solution yields no staining (cap, bottle or equipment), no ringing and no flavor off-notes, functioning wonderfully in water-based products. The color is highly concentrated, making it an economically suitable option. Sensient is currently in the process of developing a similar solution for beverage brands producing cloudy drink products.

Sensient Natural Blue vegetable juice maintains a sapphire blue @ pH 3.6 and above in beverages. At pH levels below 3.6, the color will shift from blue to purple and then pink. This solution is the industry’s leading heat and light stable natural blue and in combination with other natural colors, opens the door to achieving green, purple and even brown shades.

A true Blue #1 match for beverages at very low pH continues to be a challenge, but innovative sources of natural blue are being investigated and it is expected that beverage brands will be able to hit that mark in the next few years.

Natural color conversion continues to be top-of-mind for beverage brands, so I plan to add posts about additional color shades in the coming weeks and months. In the meantime, you may want to check out some of my colleagues blogs for information on other applications.

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