Research reveals value of purified lactic acid in natural colour stabilisation

Research just completed by Purac, the leader in natural food preservation, has demonstrated the effectiveness of PURAC FIT Plus for natural colour stabilisation in acidified foods and drinks. The study showed that PURAC FIT Plus, a purified lactic acid can reduce the fading of anthocyanins (natural red-purple colours) in acidified finished products by up to 50%, compared to commonly used citric acid. As colour fading isperceived as a quality defect by consumers, the ability to retain fresh and vibrant colours throughout a product's shelf life is a valuable benefit for formulators and brand owners.

The use of natural colours in the food industry is booming, underpinned by health concerns and a return to "natural" products. The global natural food colours market grew by 35% to $525 million between 2005 and 2009. Already accounting for 36% of the total food colours market, natural products are expected to increase their share further. Red, pink, purple and blue are popular colours in many confectionery, jams, jellies and beverage products. These colours can be found in anthocyanins, which are present in numerous vegetables and fruits, including blackcurrants, grapes and purple carrot.

Natural colours are inherently unstable and factors including pH, temperature, oxidation, light and the presence of sugar or salt can all affect stability in the end product. Acidulants have been used for many years for anthocyanin stabilisation and various other purposes. This latest research opens up new opportunities for formulators to stabilise colours more efficiently in acidified applications such as beverages.

Inge Evers, senior application technologist at Purac, comments,"There are various motives for acidifying foods and drinks, and the choice of acidulant can dramatically affect anthocyanin stability. Our research found that, compared to citric acid, PURAC FIT Plus offers significant improvements in anthocyanin stability, especially when the products are exposed to light, as they are in the retail environment and at home."

"These results are very exciting, especially for beverage and fruit preparation manufacturers," adds Hans Schinck, category manager, taste and nutrition. "We foresee continued growth in the natural colours market. Being able to retain a product's aesthetic qualities while optimising its taste profile with PURAC FIT Plus will not only improve stand out on the shelf and but will also boost consumer perceptions and enhance their eating and drinking experience."

PURAC FIT Plus is a natural, ultra-pure, high quality lactic acid which was launched in 2010. Since its introduction, it has been adopted by formulators all over the world for acidification and masking off-tastes from high intensity sweeteners like stevia.

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