Caramel Replacement – Naturally!

We are all familiar with a large variety of products in numerous shades of brown with the offerings ranging from cereal, cookies, certain breads, beverages like teas, coffees, and soda, pet food, alcoholic beverages, bakery mixes, soups and sauces, etc. It comes to no surprise that brown colour shades most widely used across the entire food and beverage spectrum.

Different caramel colours E150 a-d were traditionally the preferred colour option for brown shades. However, for approximately four years now, caramel, especially E150 c and E150 d including its by-products 4-MEI (4-methylimidazole), have been the subject of a lot of media attention. 4-MEI is a by-product formed in certain foods and beverages during the normal heating and browning process. This process known as the Maillard Reaction gives browned foods its distinctive flavor.

Although authorities such as the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as well as the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) concluded that 4-MEI in caramel colouring is safe, we have seen customer requests to replace caramel colours in various applications. Several years ago and prior to these inquiries, Sensient began innovating around a range of natural brown shades from botanical sources. These novel solutions were developed to align with the overall tendency to look for “more natural” alternatives to colours, such as those based on fruits and vegetables. Today, we offer a portfolio of brown colours based on plants like fruits and vegetables that comply with the EU Guidance Notes on colouring foods. In addition, unique combinations of different natural colours are available to create various shades of brown.

One of the biggest challenges we have overcome has been to produce rich natural brown shades for use in confectionery to successfully perform under the intense processing conditions, notably in pan coatings and hard boiled candies. Thus we have been able to make heat stable options available:

Caramel Replacement 1

Additionally, there are several attractive brown shades from fruit juice products.

Caramel Replacement 2

If looking to replace caramel class IV (E 150d) in dairy products, our colour solutions based on malt and burnt sugar might be an interesting approach to darker brown shades. Oil soluble products are also an option for product developers formulating in savoury and snack applications.

Caramel Replacement 3

Kosher, Halal, and vegetarian options of our shades of brown are also available. From milk coffee to rich dark browns, our portfolio of stable colours can help your brand meet the demands of today’s health-conscious consumers.

Caramel Replacement 4

Just recently, a high strength burnt sugar-based product “Macchiato Brown” has been added to the new portfolio, ideally suitable for creating rich and dark brown shades in various end products.

If you have any questions or projects where you need some assistance, please set up a consultation or reach out to me directly.

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