Available Technologies - Ohio State University Technology Commercialization Office
Technology Commercialization Office

Blue & green colorants derived from naturally sourced delphinidin based anthocyanins

Technology #38387

A healthier, natural alternative to artificial blue and green food product colorants.

The Need

Color is a key attribute affecting the overall quality and flavor perception of foods and is critical to the product’s overall acceptance. Due to health concerns (such as allergies and possible carcinogenesis), consumer demand for natural products, and regulatory restrictions, the use of artificial colorants has become less desirable. Therefore, interest in natural alternatives for synthetic colorants has increased. Anthocyanins are naturally occurring pigments in fruits and vegetables responsible for most orange, red and blue colors. They are of particular interest due to inherent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities associated with protection against chronic diseases. However, natural blue colorants available in the market are limited in their pH applications, or are not approved in the US or have a shade that does not work for many applications. Delphinidin based anthocyanins derived from eggplants and other fruits or vegetables are one potential colorant option; however, their stability is limited and colors change as result of pH.

The Technology

Researchers at The Ohio State University, led by Dr. Gregory Sigurdson and Dr. Monica Giusti, have developed naturally derived blue pigments that offer color characteristics of the synthetic food colorants. Using metal chelation techniques, certain structural characteristics of delphinidin-based anthocyanins were found to increase blue color expression while other characteristics demonstrated increased stability in acidic conditions.

Commercial Applications

  • Natural Food and Beverage Product Colorants
  • Vitamins and Supplements Colorants
  • Pet Food

Benefits/Advantages

  • Metal chelation by these pigments expands their blue-green hue expression into a wider pH range than naturally occurs and increases the duration of color expression.
  • As the food industry is being driven towards more natural products and ingredients, this product may appeal to a market where few alternatives exist for healthier and visually appealing blue or green food colorants.