CertasureTM Screening:
Unauthorized Solvents

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 colors 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 colors due to the nature of agriculture. For example, because natural colors 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:

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Pesticides

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Microbiological Contamination

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Heavy Metals

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Adulteration

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Unauthorized Solvents

The Unauthorized Solvent
Screening Process

What’s the Risk?

Solvents are used to extract color 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.

methanol

Why Would Unauthorized Solvents Be Used?

Typically, we see the use of unauthorized solvents because they extract the color better or more efficiently. This would allow the manufacturer to more quickly extract the color or pull more color out of the botanical. These harsher solvents may not meet food safety requirements.

WHAT DO WE SCREEN FOR?

All incoming raw materials and natural colors 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:

 

us-flag-logo canada-flag-logo ffc-logo jecfa-logo
SOLVENT RESIDUES ALLOWED IN EU
(E 100)
ALLOWED
IN US
ALLOWED
IN FCC
ALLOWED in
JECFA (INS 100i)
ETHYL ACETATE 50+ PPM NOT PERMITTED NOT PERMITTED 50+ PPM
ACETONE 50+ PPM 30 PPM 30 PPM 30 PPM
METHANOL 50+ PPM 50+ PPM 50+ PPM 50+ PPM

 

While all four groups permit methanol at a level of 50 ppm, acetone is limited to 30 ppm by the US, the FCC, and JECFA. As the leading global color supplier, Sensient’s Certasure™ program testing ensures that all global regulatory standards are met, no matter where the color 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.

Failures

In USDA Certified Organic colors, for example, only water is permitted as a solvent, so the detection of any chemical solvent would constitute a failure for these sources.

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.

 

As with all failures of any Certasure™ screening protocol, we have a zero-tolerance policy. We return all failed lots to the vendor and request corrective steps to ensure that the contamination does not happen again.
certasure-imgSensient’s Promise of Confidence and Safety to You and Your Consumers

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 colors, 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 colors 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 color solutions from Sensient by requesting any shade here!

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