NATURAL vs SYNTHETIC
Let’s face facts: natural colors are not as iridescent, strong, or shelf-stable as synthetic colors. Further, because synthetic colors are available in each of the primary colors (FD&C Red 40, FD&C Yellow 5, and FD&C Blue 1), they can be mixed and matched to produce quite literally millions of colors. Artificial dyes and pigments are derived from petroleum products and are intended to last for years and years.
Synthetic colors have established a “gold standard” for color additives over the past seventy-five years. Synthetic colors are generally heat stable, light stable, and pH stable. They are available as water-soluble dyes (in either liquid or powdered form) or as insoluble pigments. Synthetic colors are not restricted by kosher or halal religious laws, and they are not produced from genetically modified organisms. Perhaps most importantly, synthetic colors are remarkably strong. As a result, the color of a finished product can be easily “tweaked” at the very end of the manufacturing process with few if any problems. Consequently, we say that synthetic colors are an “End-Of-Process” ingredient.
Natural colors on the other hand are a “Beginning-Of-Process” ingredient. Why? For example, some natural colors are sensitive to heat. Therefore, we must take into account any thermal processing before selecting a natural color additive. Some natural colors are sensitive to light. Therefore, we must factor into our selection the product’s packaging. Some natural colors change hue as pH changes. Thus, we must consider the product’s final pH when choosing a natural color additive. For these reasons, the selection of natural color additives should be made at the product development phase, in the beginning so to speak, not at the end of the manufacturing line.