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Purple carrots

Purple Carrots in High Demand as Natural Food Coloring

Saturday, August 15, 2009 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: purple carrots, health news, Natural News


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(NaturalNews) Producers of purple carrots are anticipating a massive surge in demand as consumers and governments become increasingly wary of artificial food colorings.

For decades, food producers have used petroleum-based dyes to give their products bright colors, sometimes reminiscent of the flavors the food is supposed to carry.

"We eat with our eyes, and the first thing you evaluate is color," said Stephen Lauro of natural colors manufacturer ColorMaker.

After researchers linked artificial colors to hyperactivity in children, however, the United Kingdom began making plans to ban a number of the additives. The European Union responded to growing concern among scientists, consumers and health professionals by passing a law requiring all food containing artificial colors to carry a warning label reading, "May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children."

This law, which goes into force on January 1, has fueled an already growing demand for natural food coloring.

"There's a mad dash in Europe to get synthetic dyes out and put natural ones in, and it's coming across the Atlantic," Lauro said. "It was dumb luck and we stepped into it."

Now being explored as a source of such dyes is the purple carrot, ancient ancestor to the modern, orange version. Originally used as a clothing dye by Afghan royalty, the purple carrot is now being investigated as a potential source of food colorings. Researchers are at work to stabilize the purple pigment in the vegetables, which can turn brown when heated, red in acidic foods and blue in alkaline ones.

The carrots are given their purple color by anthocyanin, a powerful antioxidant that also gives blueberries and red grapes their color.

"Mom always said vegetables are good for you but didn't know why," said Paul Verderber of Grimmway Farms, which grows organic purple carrots. "The colors are causing the goodness."

Sources for this story include: www.mercurynews.com.

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