Pet Food Additives / Supplements
on March 13, 2014

Can adding color to petfoods also add nutritional value?

Non-GMO, organic and naturally derived color additives make clean labels possible while adding antioxidants and vitamins, ingredient colorists say

By definition, a color additive is any dye, pigment or other substance made or obtained from vegetable, animal, mineral or another source capable of coloring a food, drug, cosmetic or any part of the human body. US food regulations stipulate that colors added to petfoods must be of the same quality as those added to food for human consumption with few exceptions.

Soluble dyes have been extensively used in petfood applications because of their ease-of-use, range of colors available and GMP limitations. Natural colors have become an increasingly appealing option for petfood use as they can impart shades that may not be achieved with synthetic colors and make for a much more pet-parent-friendly label.

Natural colors are actually classified by the FDA as "exempt from certification" colors, according to Sensient Colors LLC, the world's largest color supplier. These colors come from a variety of sources, including seeds (annatto), roots (turmeric), vegetables (red cabbage color, beets), algae (Beta carotene), insects (carmine/cochineal) and fruits (grape color and skin extract), among others. There are 26 colorants permitted for food use, but many of these colors are restricted. Careful attention must be given to color choice so that only permitted colors are used for your specific petfood and treat applications.

While color is of  little consequence to dogs and cats, pet parent consumers judge the quality and palatability of the food they buy largely by its appearance. Color is often added to ensure consistency and to minimize the impact of variable raw materials…

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