Natural colorants are often required for formulating foods and beverages for the natural products industry. The vast majority of such colorings are extracted from plant and vegetable sources. Among the most common fruit- and vegetable-based colors are those extracted from beets, purple carrots, purple potatoes, elderberry and grapes. Other plants used for coloring include turmeric and annatto, a yellow-orange color derived from the pulp surrounding seeds of the achiote tree. Caramel color, made by caramelizing sugars, is also widely used. Two naturally derived colorants rarely found in natural products are carmine and cochineal, both derived from beetles.
FDA does not permit the use of the word ‘natural’ in relation to colorants. Instead, the source can be specified parenthetically in the ingredient deck—for example, “colored with carrot extract” or “carrot extract (color)”. There are also certified organic colorants available for functional food and beverage products.