Both synthetic and natural colors are used for food coloring. Natural food coloring are derived from fruits, vegetables other plant organs and spices, but they are not as common as artificial food colorings. Caramel, carrot carotene, turmeric, annatto extract, chlorophylls, anthocyanins, etc. are natural colors.
Synthetic colors account for 80 percent, of food coloring agents used in the food industry, and consumers need to be aware of the possible health risks an concerns regarding artificial food coloring.
Because manufactured and processed foods often lack the fresh colors of whole foods, synthetic dyes have been used for years to make such foods look more appetizing or more wholesome.
Synthetic colorings are superior to natural pigments in tinctorial strength brightness, and stability.
The toxicology of synthetic food colorings was not given any attention until the early 1930s, when 4-dimethylaminoazobenzne was found to be carcinogenic. This dye was used to color butter and margarine yellow.
Food additive: colorings