“Coloring Foods” are food ingredients used by the food industry for the primary purpose of imparting color to food and beverage products. They are manufactured from fruits, vegetables, flowers, spices, algae and/or other edible source materials.

The criteria for a food extract with coloring properties to be classified as “Coloring Foods” (and not as food color additive) are:

  • the primary extract is added during the manufacturing of compound foods with the primary effect to deliver color to the compound food. If the primary extract is used because of its aromatic, sapid or nutritive properties together with a secondary coloring effect, the primary extract is either a food or a flavoring;
  • the source material must be a food or a characteristic ingredient of food which is normally consumed as such within the EU; and
  • the pigments present in the source material must NOT undergo selective, physical and/or chemical extraction relative to the nutritive and aromatic constituents.

NATCOL developed a Code of Practice to describe current industry practice and to provide support for the classification, manufacturing, use and labelling of Coloring Foods to producers and users (i.e. food industry) of Coloring Foods on the European Union market (EU), thereby helping to ensure consistency, transparency and harmonisation of practices.

This Code is intended to serve as a Business to Business support tool and must be read in conjunction with the appropriate legislation (listed in the table found in Chapter 3 of this Code), particularly Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2008 on food additives, especially Recital 5, Article 3 (2) (a) and Annex I (2) of this Regulation.

Labelling of “Coloring Foods” has to be in accordance with Food Information Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011. The labelling needs to be clear and understandable to the consumer and should not be misleading. However, the labelling must be assessed case-by-case by the food manufacturer. Possible labelling on the ingredient list of the final food within the EU are for example “coloring food (carrot concentrate)” or “carrot concentrate”. “Coloring Foods” do not need to be designated like food color additives, i.e. by the name of their category “color” and an E-number.

“Coloring Foods” are an alternative to food color additives in case food producers/customers want a food product which is based on ingredients that consumers can easily relate to.

Scroll to Top