Carmine: Bright, stable and versatile natural food color in orange, pink, red and purple shades

Carmine is one of the most stable natural colors available. The color shade is pH-dependent, orange in acid solutions and purple in alkaline. Carmine is an excellent replacement for artificial food colors, and Chr. Hansen offers a complete range of effective, high-quality carmine solutions.

Origin and sourcing

Carminic acid (labeled E120 in Europe) is the natural, active color pigment extracted with water from the female cochineal insect (Dactylopius coccus costa), which lives mainly in Latin America and a few other countries. The cochineal lives on the Opuntia fiscus Indica cactus. Sourcing one third of global carmine production, Chr. Hansen is the dominant supplier of carmine to the international food industry.

Usage of carmine

Carmine has a bright reddish hue and is used in many food products, including confectionery, ice cream, beverages, meat, and fruit preparations for yogurt as well as other dairy products. Carmine displays excellent light and heat stability and is resistant to oxidation. Chr. Hansen offers a complete range of effective, high-quality carmine solutions, including the award-winning, highly concentrated carmine color ‘Red Strawberry Fragaria’ developed specifically for fermented milk products and fruit preparations.

History of carmine

Carmine has been used for centuries. During the Aztec and Inca empires, the cochineal was considered a highly valued resource for producing bright red-colored textiles. After being rediscovered by the Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortès in 1519 in Mexico, the cochineal trade became an important export product for Spain in the 17th century. Carmine’s importance was maintained until 1870 when the red artificial colors appeared in the textile industry, keeping its use only in some special markets, such as for local wool clothes and Iranian carpets. However, it experienced a revival in the 1980s when the US Food and Drug Administration banned the use of a number of artificial colorants in food applications.

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