Subjected to extremes in temperature, light, moisture and air in packaging, industrially processed food can fade to an unappealing colour during the manufacturing process. Food colours are therefore used to make up for this loss or to enhance the natural colours already there.
But food technologists and new product developers are keenly aware that the use of colour in food affects more than just the appearance – it can actually change the perceived taste.
Nicki Engeseth, food scientist at the University of Illinois says: “People are strongly influenced by perception based on sight. If you put yellow food colouring in vanilla pudding, before they even taste it, they will think it will be lemon or banana. They will tell you it is lemon or banana even after tasting it because they are so strongly perceiving it as lemon or banana.”