So how did artificial color get into our food? Here is a bit of history:
So why are natural and artificial colorings added to foods? The color of your food can substantially add to how you perceive the taste; brighter colors can also make a food look fresher and more appealing, therefore increasing sales. It is unfortunate that as consumers we are conditioned to expect certain foods to be a certain color and will reject those that do not fall into our perceived norms - to most people it just wouldn’t seem right if macaroni and cheese wasn’t bright orange. This expectation and recognition of the color of foods can also be seen as a defense or survival mechanism, it is generally understood that when mushrooms are brightly colored they are probably poisonous to eat.
Companies are working hard to switch to all natural – but the challenge lies in identifying a variety of natural colors, and successfully integrating them into foods. Naturally derived colorants can have varying temperature sensitivities, among other attributes, affecting a product’s appearance, flavor, calories, taste and stability.
Reading labels is your best bet for avoiding unwanted colors or flavors in your foods – look for products with naturally added color derived from fruits and vegetables. Ingredients to avoid on food labels include, “artificial color” and “FD&C [color] No. [number].” Another solution is to buy more whole unprocessed foods such as fruits and vegetables and use spices to add flavor; by doing so you will not only limit your exposure to food colorings but other unnecessary cooking and processing additives as well.