In the food industry, dyes of natural origin are more sought after than artificial dyes because they are not harmful to health and have a higher nutritional value.
Some of the most widely used dyes are cochineal Carmine E120 and Annatto E160b. These dyes are considered some of the most used in the food industry since they are of natural origin, have multiple applications, have a great dyeing power and a long life.
However, little is known about the raw material used to make these dyes.
The carmine is produced from the cochineal (Dactylopius coccus), a hemipterous plant insect belonging to the family Dactylopidae, which grows on the prickly pear. It is native to Peru and Mexico. However, Peru is currently the world’s leading producer of cochineal.
The use of the red pigment of the cochineal dates back to pre-Columbian times when it was used by ancient Peruvians to dye wool and cotton bright red.
The Annatto is obtained from the seeds of the tropical tree Achiote with a scientific name (Bixa Orellana) and its use as a pigment also dates back to pre-Columbian times. The chemical components of annatto are the carotenoids bixin and its derivative norbixin. These components are responsible for achieving the staining.
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