EU Number E160d
21 CFR 73.585
CAS # 502-65-8
Lycopene is a natural red food colouring belonging to the carotenoid colouring group. Lycopene is found in a variety of fruits, vegetables, and microorganisms. The European Union has approved lycopene extracted from tomatoes (E160d(ii), extracted from Blakeslea trispora (160d(iii)), and produced synthetically (160d(i)). The FDA in the United States has approved only lycopene sourced from tomatoes as a colour additive in foods. Lycopene, like other carotenes, may provide health benefits due to its antioxidant properties.
Lycopene is extracted from natural sources by homogenization and extraction followed by filtration of the plant or bacterial source. Lycopene is a long, conjugated carbon chain without the cyclized end groups seen in other carotenoids such as beta-carotene. It is therefore hydrophobic but can be made dispersible in water with the use of emulsifiers and particle size reduction strategies. The light absorption of the conjugated carbon chain is responsible for the red pigment. The long chain also leads to colour degradation due to oxidation and light. Carotenoids benefit from certain processing strategies, such as incorporating antioxidants and specialized packaging.
Figure 1: Lycopene Chemical Structure