No synthetic and odour: Japanese firm launches odour-free red radish food colouring

By Tingmin Koe contact

- Last updated on GMT

The colour on the far left is produced by a new food colouring developed by Japanese ingredient firm San-Ei Gen F.F.I. The others are colours produced by elderberry (starting from the second left), purple corn, grape juice, purple sweet potato, and red cabbage. © San-Ei Gen F.F.I
The colour on the far left is produced by a new food colouring developed by Japanese ingredient firm San-Ei Gen F.F.I. The others are colours produced by elderberry (starting from the second left), purple corn, grape juice, purple sweet potato, and red cabbage. © San-Ei Gen F.F.I

Related tags: Colours, Japan, Odor

Japanese ingredient firm San-Ei Gen F.F.I has launched a new ingredient – a red radish-derived food colouring that does not produce an off-flavour.

As red radish produces a strong stench, its use as a food colouring has been limited. San-Ei Gen F.F.I is seeking to overturn the situation by removing the off-flavour with a special purification technique.

The new food colouring, available in both liquid and powder forms, is able to produce a yellowish red colour at low pH.

In response to queries from FoodNavigator-Asia​, Dr Yutaka Higashimura, deputy GM of food colour laboratory of the firm said that the usage of the product was “the same as other anthocyanins”.​ 

Since the off-flavour of red-radish has been removed, the new colouring could be used in a wider range of applications, such as beverages, candies, gummies, frozen dessert, fruit sauce, and jelly, Dr Higashimura said.

There hasn't been any natural colour pigments which has the same colour shade as red radish at the moment. And due to its strong off-flavour, the usage of red radish has been limited and we have recognised this problem.

Hence, by developing red radish pigment without the off-flavour, it could be used for applications which red radish can't be used previously due to its strong off-flavour,” ​he said.

He believed that the new colouring could also substitute the synthetic colour R40 – a food colouring which is synthetically derived from petroleum, since the new food colouring shares a similar shade with it.

Hoping to eliminate the odour and provide a natural alternative, the firm embarked on a six year long R&D in year 2013.

As for the price, he said that it was “within the range of other existing anthocyanin”.

Comparisons with other products

When tested against existing red radish colourants under different temperature conditions – at 5 degrees and 50 degrees – it was found that the liquid form of the new colouring produced a very low amount of odour-producing compounds.

The amount of odour produced is based on the amount of strong smelling chemical compounds produced, namely methyl mercaptan, dimethyl disulfide, and dimethyl trisulfide.

For example, when stored at 5 degrees, the new ingredient was able to reduce the total concentration of odorous components to about 1/150 of that of the other products at 2.9pg/ml.

When stored at a higher temperature at 50 degrees, the total concentration of odorous components produced by the new ingredient was 1/235 of the other products at 4.8pg/ml.

Markets

The new ingredient has been launched in Japan and a number of countries, such as the US, Europe, China, and South Korea.

San-Ei Gen F.F.I is also considering to bring the product to other regions, such as Taiwan, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

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