Replacing Red 3 in Bakery Ingredients

heart-shaped cookies

The Red 3 Situation

As many in the industry have heard by now, Red 3 has been banned by a new law in California taking effect on January 1, 2027. Several states have since introduced copycat bans, though none have passed yet.

Because of this impending state ban paired with rising consumer scrutiny resulting from related headlines, many brands and developers are seeking alternatives to the bright pinks provided by FD&C Red 3.

Red 3 is often used in bakery applications and ingredients to achieve bright pinks, particularly in seasonal offerings for holidays like Valentine’s Day or spring pastel pinks.

Replacing Red 3 in Common Bakery Applications and Ingredients

The most common challenges when replacing Red 3 across applications fall into three main buckets: shade, permissibility, and stability.



Meeting Shade Requirements for Red 3 Replacement

The specific boldness of the pinks created by Red 3 in many applications can be difficult to replicate with other color sources. Even other synthetic colors like Red 40 lack the almost neon quality of Red 3 pink. However, a bright shade match is often very important to brands seeking to make a swap, as a color change can falsely indicate a quality or flavor change to a customer.

on-pack claims


On-Pack Claims and Permissibility Considerations

We see many bakery customers needing color ingredients that meet Kosher labeling requirements to maintain an existing on-pack claim. Carmine and cochineal are very common color ingredients, but they do not meet the Kosher standards set by these brands, so these highly stable options are not on the table.



Ensuring Stability in Red 3 Alternatives

Depending on the application, different processing or packaging conditions such as heat or light exposure can influence the stability of color ingredients. Red 3 is sensitive to water and light in some cases, and similarly some natural colors perform better in certain applications than others. Choosing the right color solution for a particular application is easy with the support of a color expert.

Our technical color experts have a deep understanding of these challenges and the solutions available.

We are ready to help customers with anything from specific shade matching to side-by-side benchwork to fast color samples for you to try on your own.

These are some of the most common bakery and baking ingredients we see needing Red 3 replacements today and some of the solutions we recommend first:

sweet savory collage


Applications like cakes, chips, crackers, breads, buns, muffins, and more require color solutions that survive the heat of a baking process.

Red 40 is highly cost effective and stable. Carmine offers an excellent shade match with strong stability. SupraRed™ is a clean-label beet juice option with enhanced stability and concentration.

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These applications typically have a water component, so water-applicable solutions may be used to create the ideal shade match needed.

Carmine is a fantastic shade match for Red 3 and offers strong stability. Beet juice is very label-friendly for consumers and brands alike and offers pink hues in these applications.

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cake pops


Oil- or fat-based applications require oil-applicable solutions to ensure full incorporation and best color performance.

Carmine once again offers a strong shade match and excellent stability. Sensient’s newest Microfine™ solution, Pink Microfine™, is an excellent clean label shade match to Red 3 in oil-based applications.

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Extrusion is a harsh process and colors chosen for these applications need to survive high temperatures.

SupraRed™ is a natural beet-based color technology developed specifically for reds and pinks in high heat applications. Carmine offers strong stability across applications and a bright pink hue.

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For color support in fresh or packaged bakery applications or to replace Red 3 in other projects, reach out to our team with any questions. We would love to provide color samples for your benchwork as well.

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