Food Safety Is More Important Than Ever
As safety concerns grow around the world and the food supply chain steps into the spotlight, food safety is more important than ever before. Studies have shown that a recall in the food industry typically costs a company an average of $10 million, but the damage to a brand’s reputation and consumer perception can go even further. In order to ensure that natural colours are never the cause of a recall, Sensient’s Certasure™ program was developed.
This industry-leading program consists of five testing protocols that each focus on a particular aspect of the higher risks posed by botanically-sourced colours due to the nature of agriculture. For example, because natural colours need to be extracted from their botanical sources, it’s critical to test for unauthorized solvents to ensure that these chemicals do not end up in a final consumer packaged good.
This blog is the final article in an ongoing series examining each of the five pillars of the Certasure™ program. For more information on the other testing protocols, choose one of the following:
The Unauthorized Solvent Screening Process
What’s the Risk?
Solvents are used to extract colour from botanical sources. Unauthorized solvents or solvents that exceed the permissible level can have negative effects on the human body when consumed.
For example, consumption of methanol, a popular chemical solvent, could have health consequences. Most solvents are measured and regulated at very low levels, parts-per-million (PPM). Although they will not lead to immediate harm, over time they can have an impact on consumer health.
Why Would Unauthorized Solvents Be Used?
Typically, we see the use of unauthorized solvents because they extract the colour better or more efficiently. This would allow the manufacturer to more quickly extract the colour or pull more colour out of the botanical. These harsher solvents may not meet food safety requirements.
WHAT DO WE SCREEN FOR?
All incoming raw materials and natural colours are tested through the Certasure™ program. We first map the entire supply process for each botanical source and detail the solvents used throughout the process. We ensure that each solvent meets all appropriate local and global regulations.
Every country has unique regulations governing which solvents are permitted to be used and at what usage rate. Bodies such as the FDA, EPA, and Codex outline these regulations.
Solvents permitted for a single raw material vary from region to region. For example, some maximum residual solvent levels permitted for turmeric oleoresin extraction around the world include:
|SOLVENT RESIDUES||ALLOWED IN EU (E 100)||ALLOWED IN US||ALLOWED IN FCC||ALLOWED in JECFA (INS 100i)|
|ACETONE||50 PPM COMBINED MAX.||30 PPM||30 PPM||30 PPM|
|ETHYL ACETATE||NOT PERMITTED||NOT PERMITTED||50 PPM COMBINED MAX.|
|METHANOL||50 PPM||50 PPM|
While all four groups permit methanol in principle, 50ppm is allowed in the US, whilst EU considers the total sum all three solvents not exceeding a level of 50 ppm in total. Acetone is limited to a level of 30 ppm in the US, while again in Europe the total sum of acetone, ethyl acetate and methanol may not exceed 50 ppm. As the leading global colour supplier, Sensient’s Certasure™ program testing ensures that all global regulatory standards are met, no matter where the colour is sold.
Sensient analyzes each raw material lot for a full panel of any solvents. If a substance that is not permitted for that botanical is detected, that lot is rejected and returned to the vendor and corrective actions are requested.
In the US, in USDA Certified organic colours, for example, only water is permitted as a solvent, so the detection of any chemical solvent would constitute a failure for these sources.
In the EU, EU certified organic products may only contain selective colouring foods or ingredients, for example fruit juices or concentrates, to achieve a colouring effect. In these, chemical solvents are not allowed.
Unlike adulteration or other screening processes where a contamination may be accidental, the use of unauthorized solvents is an intentional choice by the supplier. If a supplier is breaking regulatory guidelines during the extraction process and using an unauthorized solvent, they are clearly trying to get a better yield from the botanical in order to gain a cost advantage.
In 2020, we rejected several lots of red cabbage for the use of unauthorized solvents.
For Sensient, just “good enough” is not good enough when it comes to food safety. When our customers see the Certasure™ seal on any of our botanically-sourced natural food colours, that represents our company-wide commitment to safety and quality. We hold ourselves to the strictest global food safety standards, and we hope that testing protocols and programs like Certasure™ become the industry standard.
If you have questions about our natural food colours or our unauthorized solvents screening process, feel free to schedule a consultation.
Bring nature’s rainbow to your next food or beverage project with safe and quality natural colour solutions from Sensient by requesting any shade here!