Organic annatto extract offered as food color

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Organic food National organic program Organic certification

DD Williamson has succeeded in sourcing certified annatto extracts for use as food colors, opening up new possibilities for manufacturers to make organic claims on foods.

Annatto is a carotenoid that is extracted from the outer coat of seeds from the Bixa orellana​ tree. It yields a range of hues from yellow to orange, and finds uses in large number of food products.

The natural color specialist was asked by customers to offer certified organic annatto extracts in its portfolio, Campbell Barnum, global VP marketing, “so they could offer 100 percent organic food products”.

The company responded to this demand by seeking out an organic source, and offering two extract versions – one water-soluble and the other oil-soluble. The different versions are used by different kinds of food products: water-soluble is suited for use in applications including natural cheese, ice cream, snacks, cereals and baked goods.

The oil-soluble version, on the other hand, is better suited to products like process cheese, margarine, spreads, vegetable oil, salad dressings, and confectionery coating.

The extract can be labeled in the US as “organic annatto extract”.

The Bixa orellana​ tree grows in South and Central America, Caribbean, Central Africa, India and Philippines. DD Williamson has not disclosed where it is sourcing its annatto from.

This is not the first time the company has offered organic versions of its popular colors to the market. In 2005 it launched organic caramel color and caramel rice syrup in the US.

Nor have its organic efforts been restricted to the United States: in December 2008 it launched an organic burnt sugar color in the European Union.

DD Williamson’s processing facility in Port Washington, Wisconsin, is certified by Quality Assurance International, an agent for the USDA’s National Organic Program.

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