Colorants are food additives that impart color to food and improve food color.

Colorants, also known as food pigments, are substances that give food color and improve food color, and belong to a category of food additives. At present, there are more than 60 kinds of food colorants commonly used in the world, which can be divided into two categories: natural food colorants and food synthetic colorants according to their sources and properties.

Natural food colorants mainly come from natural pigments. According to their sources, there are three main categories: one is plant pigments, such as beet red, turmeric, β-carotene, chlorophyll, etc.; the other is animal pigments, such as lac red, cochineal red etc.; the third is microorganisms, such as Monascus red and so on.

Food synthetic colorants are mainly synthesized based on some special chemical groups or chromophore groups, and can be divided into two categories according to their chemical structures. One is azo pigments, such as amaranth, carmine, sunset yellow, Lemon yellow, new red, allura red, acid red, etc.; the second is non-azo pigments, such as erythrosine, bright blue and so on. There are clear and strict regulations on the use and labeling of food colorants at home and abroad.

Different countries have clear regulations on the type and use of food colorants. The regulations and standards of international organizations, countries and regions such as the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC), the European Union, the United States, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada also contain regulations and standards for the use of natural food colorants and food synthetic colorants.

my country's "National Food Safety Standard for the Use of Food Additives" (GB2760) clearly stipulates the varieties, scope of use and limits or residues of food colorants that are allowed to be used, and the corresponding quality specifications are also gradually improving. At the same time, in accordance with the "General Rules for the Labeling of Prepackaged Foods in National Food Safety Standards" (GB7718), as long as colorants are used in food, they must be marked on food labels.

The rational use of colorants in accordance with the standards will not cause harm to human health.

Regardless of whether it is a natural food colorant or a food synthetic colorant, the safety must be assessed on the same starting line. As long as it passes the risk assessment, is approved and used in accordance with the standard regulations and corresponding quality specifications, it is safe and will not cause harm to the health of consumers. The food additives allowed in GB2760 have all been evaluated for safety, and consumers do not need to worry about the colorants used in compliance with the standards.

At present, there is a phenomenon of excessive use of colorants in food, and high attention should be paid to such problems.

Judging from the results of the 2015 food safety supervision and sampling inspection published by the State Food and Drug Administration, the use of food additives including colorants that are beyond the scope and limit of use accounted for 24.8% of the unqualified samples. The reason is that some manufacturers do not understand the provisions of the relevant standards and lack corresponding technical management, and some manufacturers deliberately do it to save production costs or unilaterally pursue the sensory effects of products.

Recommendations for the safety of the above colorants:

First, food production enterprises must strictly abide by relevant standards and regulations. Food production enterprises should strictly abide by the requirements of GB2760 and GB7718. Under the premise of achieving the expected effect, the amount of food additives including food colorants used in food should be reduced as much as possible, and they should be marked in the label.

The second is that the regulatory authorities should increase the supervision on the use of food colorants beyond the scope and limit. It is recommended to strictly supervise the use and labelling of food colorants by food companies. Severe penalties should be imposed on the illegal addition of food colorants, and the guidance and training of practitioners should be strengthened.

The third is that consumers should treat food colorants rationally. Consumers are advised to view colorants rationally, not to pursue the sensory properties of food excessively, but to understand food composition and sensory quality from a scientific and natural perspective.

Fourth, food safety testing is routine and extensive, a market-level testing system is established, testing instruments are set up, testing methods are provided, and the main quality parameters of relevant food are tested at any time. Guanyu Instruments Food Additive Detector can quickly and accurately quantitatively detect multiple food additive indicators.

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