Formulating All-Natural Beverages (Excerpts from

28 November 2011
Campbell Barnum, Vice President
Tel: +1 502 895 2438

Formulating All-Natural Beverages

 By Cindy Hazen, Contributing Editor 

Excerpts from, November 16, 2011


It’s easy enough to find a definition for the word “natural” in the dictionary. Merriam-Webster gives these two: being in accordance with or determined by nature, or having or being a classification based on features existing in nature. It sounds simple enough, until you start talking about food product design. The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) does not define natural.  Without a standard reference, manufacturers are left to make the call for labels of nonmeat foods and beverages. To add to the conundrum, opinions within the industry vary because of the need to balance cost and meet ever-changing consumer expectations.

Coloring naturally

When the color isn’t what people expect, it can be off-putting. This may be one reason why clear colas have been less successful,

Think cola. Think caramel. But it is essential to know which of the four classes of caramel color to use when formulating natural beverages. All are labeled caramel color, but “Class I is the most natural,” says Campbell Barnum, vice president, D.D. Williamson, Global Support Center, Louisville, KY. “Beverage designers in the United States who wish to formulate “natural” tend to select Class I caramel because it is compliant to a product display panel (front-of-the-package) claim for “made with naturally derived ingredients,“ says Barnum. Class III and IV caramels are produced with ammonia.

Conventional Class I caramel colors are not stable below pH 3.5. D.D. Williamson has developed a Class I caramel that is stable below pH 2.5 for soft drink concentrates.