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The food industry makes a major shift from artificial to natural

Extracts from algae, rosemary and monk fruit could soon replace and such as Blue No. 1, BHT and aspartame that label-conscious grocery shoppers are increasingly shunning. Research is enabling this shift from , sweeteners and preservatives to naturally derived ones, and could soon yield many more natural options, reports Chemical & Engineering News, the weekly news magazine of the .

, senior editor at C&EN, notes that the trend has built momentum as concern over negative health effects of artificial ingredients and additives grows. Recent studies have suggested a link between some artificial colorings and hyperactivity in children. Others have suggested that certain may cause cancer in rodents. These results are sinking into the consumer psyche. By 2013, almost a quarter of U.S. consumers reported that they read food labels to check for artificial colors and flavors. That’s 15 percent more than the year before. In Europe, regulations spurred a faster changeover and have largely driven the dramatic shift in global sales toward natural colors. In the $1.5 billion market, growth of the latter has overtaken synthetics, which have plateaued.

Now many food manufacturers are turning to colors derived from foods, such as turmeric; to new fermentation routes for natural yellows, reds and purple dyes; and to rosemary and monk fruit as a preservative and sweetener, respectively, the article states. Natural green and blue food colorings are harder to come by, but researchers are finding sources for these as well. Last summer, M&Ms candy maker Mars got the OK from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to color their blue treats with an extract from blue-green algae. Scientists are also investigating new natural ways to preserve meat, produce vanilla and sweeten foods without the calories.

Source

American Chemical Society