Annatto coloring

Annatto is one of the oldest colorants, dating back to antiquity for coloring food, cosmetics and textiles. Annatto is the orange-yellow, oil-soluble natural pigment extracted form the pericarp of the seeds of the tropical shrub Bixa orellana.

Annatto has been used as a colorant, especially in cheese and other food products, for more than 2 centuries. The main pigments in annatto are bixin and norbixin. Bixin is the monomethyl ester of a dicarboxyl carotenoid. Norbixin is the saponified form, a dicarboxyl acid of the same carotenoid.

Processing is primarily done by abrading off of the pigment in an appropriate suspending agent for production of the native bixin from the seed. Processing may alternatively involve aqueous alkaline hydrolysis with simultaneous production of norbixin. Annatto is available in both water soluble and oil soluble liquids and powders.

Annatto and its extracts are designated collectively as E160b and are permitted as a food additive in the European Union and elsewhere, and have widespread use in the food industry for the colouring of many commodities including flour and sugar confectionery, dairy and savoury products, soft drinks and fish.
Annatto coloring

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