Carotenoids are the compounds responsible for yellow, orange and red colours in many fruit, vegetable and algal sources. Within each source, carotenoids vary in concentration, proportions and chemical structure, all of which influence how it can be used in a food product. Those used as natural food colours include annatto, beta-carotene, paprika, lycopene, lutein, carrot oil and saffron.

Stability of Carotenoids

carotenoids natural colours natural colors

Carotenoids generally have good heat stability. Carotenoids can handle high temperature and high pressure extrusion processing. Carotenoids work best in pH above 3.5 and have good pH stability in high pH. However, carotenoids can be degraded by light, low pH, oxygen and enzymes. DDW's application team has options available to help overcome these challenges. This is especially important to remember for manufacturers of beverage concentrates with lower pH levels.

Solubility of Carotenoids

Most carotenoids, such as beta-carotene and paprika, are oil soluble when extracted from their plant source. DDW is pleased to announce the opening of its new state-of-the-art facility which will produce EmulsiTech, DDW's new line of color emulsions. Using cutting-edge emulsion technology, DDW converts these oil soluble colors into awater dispersible form. With EmulsiTech™, product developers can formulate with easy-to-use, natural colorings for clear or opaque applications.

Chemical Structure

All carotenoids demonstrate a basic structure which consists of a hydrocarbon chain of varying length and varying types of end groups. The light absorption of the conjugated carbon chain and its variations produce the colour. The long chain also leads to colour degradation due to oxidation and light. Carotenoids benefit from processing techniques that combat oxidation such as antioxidants and specialized packaging.

beta carotene chemical structure carotenoids
Figure 1: beta-carotene
lycopene chemical structure carotenoid
Figure 2: Lycopene

trans-bixin transbixin chemical structure carotenoid
Figure 3: Trans-bixin