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7 things to keep in mind when working with fat-based applications

Read about the most common challenges when applying naturally-sourced colors to fat-based applications.

1. Uneven coloration or “specking” of the color in fat-based application

If you are used to using artificial lakes, your colors have probably always dissolved easily. But you might have experienced specking or spotting when applying naturally-sourced colors to fat compounds. The most likely cause of this is that water dispersible or water soluble color powders have been used; this often result in darker spots or specking, since water is incompatible with fat. Specking can easily be avoided by using oil soluble or easily dispersible colors. We always recommend oil soluble colors for fat applications with no added water. 

2. Migration of colors in bi-layered fat compounds or decorations

When pigments are extracted from natural sources, their molecular structure will determine if they are oil soluble or water soluble. Pigments that are oil soluble by nature, like curcumin, carotene and paprika, will migrate from one fat-based layer to another over time. Water soluble pigments will not migrate, but as noted above, in their natural state they will likely cause specking. Our new range has been specially formulated so that pigments that are water soluble by nature will disperse and remain stable in oil. Without stable, non-migrating colors, imagine the difficulties you would have with, for example, a pink and blue color used in a raspberry-blueberry flavored layered application. 

3. pH sensitivity

Fat-based applications generally have neutral pH, and this can cause problems for some natural pigments – especially pink and red, which are some of the most popular shades for berry or other fruit flavors. Pink and red shades are often produced with anthocyanins or polyphenols. They are typically very bright in low pH applications like beverages and other acidic food products, but become less stable and turn a more dull, bluish red at neutral pH. Our pink and red shades are not based on pH sensitive pigments, so you won’t experience this issue with our range.

4. High dosage levels and off-taste

If you are familiar with artificial FD&C lakes or dyes, you will notice that naturally-derived colors are often less concentrated. They have limitations based on the source they have been extracted from. Typically, higher dosages of naturally-derived colors are required, and this may impact texture or recipe composition. High dosages may also result in off-flavor when using natural pigments from some plants like paprika, cabbage and radish. Our new range has quite concentrated formulations. For example, we offer a highly concentrated CulinaColor™ Orange 251 OS which permits dosage levels similar or even lower than, for example, FD&C Sunset Yellow in seasoned snacks – and with no off-flavor from the natural source.

5. Stability issue of color bulk, causing settling or precipitation

If you’ve ever experienced issues with settling or precipitation of the color material, you know how inconvenient it is.  Using the compromised color material in your manufacturing process can lighten the color, change the color, or even create darker spots or specking because the bulk cannot be mixed into a proper dispersion. Even more inconvenient and costly, the settled pigment cannot always be recovered from the container or in the worst case, sediment in the machine can require down time and extra cleaning. Settling and precipitation can occur over time if the color formulation isn’t stable and if the pigment is not kept in suspension. To avoid these issues, our technology and formulation expertise has allowed us to create new products that keep the natural pigments in suspension.

6. Cold storage requirements

Artificial FD&C lakes or dyes are very stable so there is normally no issue in storing them at ambient temperature. Not so with all natural pigments. When extracted from plant material, the pigment is removed from its stable natural environment, and it can become sensitive to factors such as heat, light and oxidation. Packaging normally compensates for light and oxidation problems, but ambient temperature can be an issue for some natural pigments. Non-stable colors that need to be placed in cold storage can be an expensive challenge for some food manufacturers. Our new oil soluble naturally-derived colors remain in suspension at ambient temperature, so there is no need for refrigerated storage.

7. Color incompatibility when blending new shades

Two stable colors from natural sources, let’s say red and yellow, may destabilize if you mix them to create your own unique orange. Some ingredients are simply not compatible with each other. Others have quite different pH levels, and if you mix a high pH product with a low pH product, you might notice de-phasing, texture issues, and shade variances like fading. You may also experience precipitation, increased viscosity or lumping of the color bulk.
Our new oil soluble products have been developed so they can be used as “building blocks” to create the exact color match you need.  To make it even easier, we provide ready-to-use brown and green so there is no need to pre-mix colors at your location.  But you can easily produce a variation of the standard colors by adding more yellow, pink or blue without compromising stability of the color bulk.

Let Chr. Hansen inspire you with more information about our new natural solutions.

With our new, liquid oil-soluble range, our aim is not only to make bakery, confectionery, ice cream and snacks more colorful with natural sources – but also to make it more convenient to use naturally-derived colors.

We are always ready with technical tips & tricks for selecting the best color for your leading brand or new product development. We can also inspire you with market trends and regulatory guidance.
We are the only provider of natural colors that combines more than 140 years of unique application and regulatory expertise with a strong extensive global presence and the widest natural color portfolio in the industry.

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