The most common food coloring additives for drinks and regulations

    Thanks to food coloring for drinks, the beverage industry is more colorful than ever. These additives are considered among the most widely used in the food and beverage industry. However, widespread use also comes with strict compliance to ensure consumer safety. This article will delve into food coloring for drinks.

    beverage coloring

    The vibrant world of beverages

    The basics of food coloring for drinks

    A basic understanding of food coloring for drinks is essential for consumers and manufacturers. These colorants are intended to enhance aesthetics and play a vital role in the marketability of the beverage.

    Why must beverage manufacturers use food coloring?

    Beverage manufacturers rely on food coloring for drinks for many reasons. Natural beverage products, including juices, nectars, and teas, undergo processing steps such as pasteurization, cooking or steaming, which can cause them to lose some of their color.

    Although this procedure is required to ensure the product’s safety and prolong its shelf life, it may inadvertently lessen the color that customers identify with freshness and quality.

    Furthermore, natural colors extracted from fruits, vegetables, and other sources might not have the brightness and intensity customers want. These problems are addressed by artificial food coloring additives, which enable manufacturers to preserve or improve the visual appeal of their beverages.

    This guarantees color consistency from batch to batch and satisfies consumer demands for visually appealing beverages.

    Where does food coloring for drinks come from?

    There are two types of food coloring: artificial and natural.

    Natural sources

    They consist of plant extracts, such as fruits, vegetables, herbs, and other ingredients. For example, beetroot extract gives a vibrant red color, while turmeric extract creates a golden yellow color. Plants’ chlorophyll produces green, whereas berries’ anthocyanins produce purple and blue hues.

    Customers searching for clean-label products favor these natural colorants because they are considered healthier than synthetic additives.

    beverage coloring natural

    Natural colors continue to shine in beverage formulations

    Artificial sources

    Artificial food coloring additives are made in laboratories or through industrial processes. The purpose of these additives is to mimic and amplify natural colors. Synthetic colors provide a wide range of vibrant and stable colors, ensuring consistency of appearance across different beverage batches.

    Artificial colorants frequently used in the food and beverage industry include FD&C (Food, Drug and Cosmetic) dyes like Red 40, Yellow 5, and Blue 1.

    beverage coloring artificial

    Artificial food coloring additives are commonly used in many types of beverages

    Food coloring for drinks also comes in various forms, each with distinct advantages in terms of color intensity, flavor integration and ease of use:


    Food coloring in powder form is typically concentrated and soluble in liquids. It offers application versatility as it can be mixed directly into dry ingredients or dissolved in liquid solutions. Many drinks, including mocktails, cocktails, and other non-alcoholic beverages, can benefit from the use of powdered food coloring.

    Powdered colorants are often preferred because of their stability and long shelf life. Because their concentrated nature enables precise color control, they are perfect for imparting vivid and opaque colors to drinks. As a result, powdered food coloring is a smart investment for food professionals.


    Fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices are natural sources of extracts. They are packed with concentrated flavors and pigments that various techniques, including infusion, distillation, and pressing, have extracted. Extracts provide natural color without synthetic additives, making them popular with consumers looking for clean-label products.

    Although synthetic food coloring may be more vivid, extracted food coloring tends to give the beverage a more genuine taste.


    Food coloring concentrate is typically a liquid or gel with a high colorant concentration. These concentrates are very effective and simple to add to drink recipes. They allow precise color adjustment, making them suitable for large-scale beverage production. Concentrates can be natural or synthetic, offering various color options to suit different product requirements and consumer preferences.

    beverage coloring concentrate

    The Water-Soluble Super Concentrate is perfect for drinks

    Is it dangerous to consume artificial food coloring in drinks?

    No, adding artificial food coloring to drinks carries no inherent risks. Strict international laws guarantee safety, and these laws are periodically revised in light of new scientific discoveries. Regulatory bodies like the FDA and EFSA establish upper limits on consumption while examining any possible dangers in research.

    Although there are still reservations, the industry’s shift toward natural substitutes reflects continuous efforts to satisfy customer preferences and safety requirements, guaranteeing that artificial sweeteners and colorants remain safe for consumption.

    The most commonly used food coloring additives for drinks

    The variety of beverage colors is mainly due to several commonly used food coloring additives.

    Red Coloring Additives for drinks

    Red coloring additives are substances used to impart red hues to food, beverages, and other products. E129, or Allura Red AC, is commonly used as a synthetic coloring agent to create red hues. It is an azo dye that imparts an orange/red colouration. You’ll find it in various items, including soft drinks, sweets, cakes, and ice cream.

    Yellow Coloring Additives for drinks

    Yellow coloring additives are substances used to impart yellow hues to food and beverages.

    The E150 series includes caramel color, commonly used to create yellow to amber hues in food and beverages. It’s one of the oldest and most widely used colourings. Caramel color can add depth and warmth to drinks, ranging from pale yellow to darker shades.

    Another widely used color is E160a, or Beta-Carotene, derived from carrots and other vegetables. It imparts a yellow-to-orange hue.

    Blue Coloring Additives for drinks

    Blue coloring additives are substances used to impart blue hues to food and beverages. The commonly used color code is E133 or Brilliant Blue. It’s a synthetic colorant that imparts a vibrant blue hue.

    Green Coloring Additives for drinks

    Green coloring additives are substances used to impart green hues to food and beverages. FD&C Green No. 3 or Fast Green is widely used in various foods, including cereals, ice cream, sherbet, drink mixers, and baked goods. Another popular choice is to combine FD&C Blue No. 1 (Brilliant Blue) and FD&C Yellow No. 5 (Tartrazine) to create the green color.

    Orange Coloring Additive for drinks

    Orange coloring additives are substances used to impart orange hues to food and beverages. Derived from carrots, E160a, or Beta-carotene, is a natural pigment with an orange color. It’s commonly used in food products and dietary supplements.

    Whether artificial or natural, coloring makes food and drinks more visually appealing to consumers!

    Regulations for food coloring for drinks around the world

    While laws governing the use of food coloring in beverages differ from place to place, they all generally work to protect the health and welfare of consumers.

    US FDA regulation on food coloring

    Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, color additives (except for coal tar hair dyes) require FDA approval before they can be used in food, drugs, cosmetics, or medical devices. The FDA evaluates their safety, composition, and intended use.

    Following approval, regulations outline the kinds of foods that can be used, the highest quantities permitted, and the specifications for labeling. Certified color additives are synthetically produced and widely used, while exempt color additives come from natural sources like vegetables, minerals, or animals.

    beverage coloring fda regulation

    In order to guarantee compliance and safety, food coloring is evaluated and regulated by the FDA

    EU Regulations for food coloring

    In the European Union (EU), food colors undergo rigorous safety assessments by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and are governed by the Food Additives Regulation. Each authorized food color in the EU undergoes a thorough safety evaluation by the EFSA. Food colors must be identified by either their E number or name.

    beverage coloring EU

    In Europe, food coloring safety is evaluated and guaranteed by the EFSA

    Furthermore, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have collaborated to create the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC). Its goal is to create voluntary global standards, best practices, and guidelines about the safety and caliber of food. These standards ensure that food is safe for consumption and can be traded globally.

    Global regulatory agencies strive to guarantee that food colorings used in drinks adhere to safety regulations and are appropriately labeled, providing customers with assurance in the products they consume.


    Food coloring in drinks is integral to the appeal and marketability of beverages worldwide. While regulations continue to be created to ensure the safety and quality of these additives, the beverage industry continues to innovate and adapt, driven by consumer preferences and market trends.

    Tan Do Company stands out as a top OEM/ODM beverage manufacturer in Vietnam and more than 60 countries worldwide. Our goal is to create beverages that satisfy customers’ palates while abiding by the law. With a commitment to quality, innovation, and customer satisfaction, Tan Do provides tailored solutions to bring colorful and attractive beverages to global markets. Contact us to find out how we can support your beverage production needs.

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    Hi readers, I'm Richard, F&B marketing executive for Tan Do Beverage - a leading private label manufacturer in the beverage industry. The articles that I write have all been consulted with our professional R&D and Quality Control staff, so that all knowledge shared will be accurate and helpful. Our Blog is designed to provide the best industry insights about general beverage trends, manufacturing knowledge and guides for beverage business operations.

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