Food colors play a crucial role in enhancing the visual appeal of various confections, influencing consumer perception, and ensuring a delightful eating experience. Chemically, these colors can be broadly classified into two categories: dyes and lakes (pigments). Dyes are water-soluble and impart vibrant hues, while lakes are oil-soluble, offering versatility in applications.

Dyes: These water-soluble colorants are commonly used in beverages, candies, and other water-based products. 

Lakes: Oil-soluble colorants, lakes are often used in products with fat or oil content, such as chocolate and coatings or in powder products in powder form. 

Carriers for food colors are substances that help disperse and stabilize the colorant. Common carriers include maltodextrin, glycerin, and propylene glycol. 

Chat icon

Source and Processing

Artificial colors used in the food industry are predominantly derived through chemical synthesis, providing a controlled and reproducible method for obtaining consistent and vibrant hues. It's important to note that while the term "artificial" may suggest a lack of natural origin, certain artificial colors can be produced from naturally occurring precursors or undergo modifications of natural substances. he key factor in their classification as artificial lies in their synthesis process, often involving chemical reactions and industrial manufacturing.

Here are common sources of artificial colors:

  • FD&C Red No. 40 (Allura Red) is a coal tar derivative widely used in various food products.
  • FD&C Yellow No. 6 (Sunset Yellow) is produced from petroleum-derived precursors through complex chemical reactions
  • artrazine (FD&C Yellow No. 5) and Allura Red (FD&C Red No. 40) are common azo dyes, characterized by the presence of azo bonds (-N=N-).
  • FD&C Blue No. 1 (Brilliant Blue) is synthesized from aniline. Other colors can also be derived from Nitrobenzene.
  • ome artificial colors start from natural precursors, such as amino acids or sugars, and undergo chemical modifications to achieve the desired color sucha as caramel color.
  • Some companies are exploring bio fermentation to produce specific shades of blue and green colors

Natural Colors are derived from very different materials such plants (Beet juice for red), spices (Turmeric for yellow),  microorganisms (spirulina for blue) and even bugs (carmine from cochineal extract)

Main function in Confections

The primary function of food colors in confections is to create visually appealing products, influencing consumer preference and perception. Colors can also indicate flavors, helping consumers identify and enjoy different taste experiences.


Solubility: The solubility of food colors varies; dyes are water-soluble, while lakes are oil-soluble. Understanding solubility is crucial for achieving uniform color dispersion in different product matrices.

Shelf Stability: Proper storage conditions, such as avoiding exposure to light and moisture, contribute to the shelf stability of food colors. Stability studies are conducted to ensure consistent color performance throughout the product's shelf life.


In the United States, the Flavor Extracts Manufacturers Association (FEMA) provides regulatory guidance for the flavor industry. Flavors and flavoring substances are generally recognized as safe (GRAS) when used within established limits. The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 21, Section 172, outlines the permissible use of flavorings in various food categories, ensuring consumer safety and product integrity..

Back to Top   ▲