Color Glossary

Calcium Carbonate
A white insoluble pigment derived from mineral sources. Not allowed for use in food in the USA.
A synthetic or “nature-identical” form of carotenoid used in food as a water-dispersible powder. Canthaxanthin shades range from reddish orange to slightly violet depending on the application and form used. It also occurs naturally in shrimp, salmon, and flamingos. (Other names: Roxanthin red, E161 (g), CI Food Orange 8 I Food Orange 9, CI #40850, CAS #514-78-3).
Caramel Color
Caramel colors result from a carefully controlled heat treatment of food grade carbohydrates. Depending on the desired shade, catalysts may be used to drive the reaction to a specific color end point. Shades can range from yellow-brown to reddish brown and are classified as class I-IV depending on the catalyst used. (Other names: Burnt sugar, E150, CAS#8028-89-5).
Carnauba Wax
Wax from the Copernicia cerifera plant, which is used commonly in confectionery products as a coating or glazing ingredient.
Carthamus Yellow
A naturally occurring yellow water-soluble pigment derived from the petals of the Safflower plant (Cathamus tinctorius L.). Currently not allowed for use in foods in the USA. (Other names: Safflower yellow, CI Natural Yellow 5).
Carbon Black
A black color derived from the controlled burning of vegetable matter. Carbon black can also be obtained from activated charcoal, bones, meat, blood, as well as vegetable and animal oils/fats. Banned for use in the USA. (Other names: Vegetable Carbon, E153).
The lake form of cochineal extract. Carmine can vary in shade from yellow-red to magenta-red to violet-red. Carmine often occurs as an alkaline-treated liquid, which allows for a wide variety of applications above a pH of 3.5. (Other names: Carmine 40, E120, CI Natural Red 4, CI #75470, CAS #1328-60-5)
A magenta-red water-soluble synthetic azo dye. The shade of Carmoisine is very similar to Amaranth (FD&C Red #2). Carmoisine is not permitted for use in the USA. (Other names: Azorubine, E122, CI Food Red 3, CI #14720, CAS #3567-69-9).
A class of pigments widely found in nature as a part of photosynthesis. Examples of colorants that belong to this class of pigments include: Beta-caroterne, Canthaxanthin, Beta-Apo-8′-Carotenal, Paprika Oleoresin, Annatto, Xanthophylls, and Crocin).
Carrot Oils
An oil extracted from carrots (Daucus carota L.) that can be used for coloring foods.
Certified Colors
A system within the USA, in which every production batch of approved synthetic colorants must be certified by the FDA laboratory as complying with the FDA specifications outlined in 21 CFR, Part 74. Canada also requires batch certification, either from the FDA or from self-certifying manufacturers. No mandated government-level certification process exists for naturally-derived colorants.
The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is the codification of the rules and regulations established by the executive departments and agencies of the federal government of the United States. Title 21 of the CFR specifically outlines the general and permanent regulations surrounding Food and Drugs, including color additives.
A naturally occurring green pigment found in nature as a part of the photosynthesis process. Chlorophyll is an unstable compound in nature, which results in vegetation appearing a yellow-brown color. The addition of a copper ion stabilizes the bright green color and prevents color degradation. In the USA, the sodium-copper chlorophyllin color is permitted only in citrus-based dry beverage mixes or as a dentrifices that are drugs. (Other names: E140/E141, CI Natural Green 3, CI #75810, CAS #11006-34-1).
Citrus Red #2
An orangish-red water-insoluble synthetic dye. Citrus Red #3 is soluble in aromatic hydrocarbons. It is permitted in the USA only for coloring the skins of oranges at level not to exceed 2 ppm. (Other names: CI Solvent Red 80, CI #12156).
Cochineal Extract
The extract of a female cohcineal insect (Dactylopius coccus Costa or Coccus cacti L.). Cochineal extract shade will vary with the pH of the application: at pH 4 and below, it is orange; at pH 4-6, it is a magenta-red color; and at pH greater than 6, it is a blue-red shade. Some forms of cochineal extract remain red at pH below 4. (Other names: Carminic acid, E120, CI Natural Red 4, CI #75470, CAS #1260-17-9).
An instrument that measures the color of a substance. Most colorimeters utilize various color systems, which allows for accurate communication of a color in a three-dimensional color space that simulates human color perception. Common dimensions include: Lightness, Hue (or shade), and Chroma (or color intensity).
Coloring Foodstuff
An EU classification for colorants derived from plant-sources that retain the properties of the original plant, such as the color and flavors.
Copper Chlorophyll
See Chlorophyll.
See Saffron and Gardenia.
See Turmeric oleoresin.