The Importance of Food Safety Programs for Natural Colors

March 2018

When Sensient recognized the emerging demand for color from natural sources, a strategic plan to supply the most authentic and safe botanical colors was developed. Following the lead of Dr. James E. Simon and a group of leading food scientists and safety experts, we launched our Certasure program—an integrated food safety program for botanical colorants. Fast forward to the present, and natural colors are now the norm in about 80% of new products launched around the globe, according to 2017 Mintel data.

Today, our Certasure initiative is more important than ever. Since ingredients from botanical sources like natural colors are more prone to food safety issues, a comprehensive quality program is imperative. It’s up to the supplier to ensure the raw materials of botanical colorants are safe and authentic. The real question is authentic. But—how well are suppliers testing for food safety issues? Testing is a heavy burden considering the analytical technology and equipment needed can be very costly, especially for small scale color suppliers with limited capabilities. While a robust quality department and food safety program is an investment, the potential of a brand’s recall can be significant and the impact to brand reputation even greater.

Safety programs for botanical colors should be an industry standard. In an assessment of 500 natural color materials from around the globe, Sensient’s Certasure program failed 1 out of 4 natural raw material samples for either microbiological contamination, adulteration, heavy metal content, pesticides, or residual solvents. That statistic is alarming, and what food and beverage manufacturers should be most aware of is that these failed batches may still end up being sold into the market. It shouldn’t be this way!

Food manufacturers should have peace of mind when formulating with botanical ingredients, and we are here to assure you all that raw materials for natural colors from Sensient are qualified each and every time through this process.


The expertise and depth of our quality assurance department is a huge asset in the natural color business. It’s been a focus area for Sensient from our beginning and has been building ever since. The analytical capabilities in place are world class, and we have the necessary technologies to really detect what’s in a botanical colorant on a very deep level. Our hope is this type of testing becomes the industry norm someday, and we will continue to promote it until that is the case.

Food safety is obviously a passionate topic for us and we welcome any conversation. You can contact us below should you have any questions about the Certasure program.

Please know—if you ever have feelings of uncertainty about your colors from natural sources, we are happy to run them through our testing protocols and tell you what it is or what it is not.

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