DOST developing natural food dyes; Artificial dyes killing us softly

News, Science and Technology

The Department of Science and Technology – Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI) and Industrial Technology Development Institute (DOST-ITDI) are working together in developing natural food colors from readily available plant resources for different industrial applications.

Food manufacturers take great care in adding bright synthetic dyes into processed and fresh foods, making them look more appealing and giving the impression of a certain taste or quality to discerning consumers.

Since, color is a huge factor in choosing our food. Our sense of taste, and to some degree, our sense of smell, can be deceived by our sense of sight. This is because we often rely first on visual cues when judging a certain food product’s quality and acceptability.

However, after reading the ingredient lists.

Chances are, you’d notice that the same dye used in your favorite bubble gum-flavored ice cream or blueberry-flavored drink may also be same dye used in the blue jeans you are wearing right now.

The gulaman from your favorite vendor or the bagoong alamang from your market suki may also be guilty of using synthetic dyes.

The American Chemical Society stated that artificial food colorings were originally manufactured from coal tar, a thick black liquid from coal.

Today, most of the synthetic food colorings are derived from petroleum or crude oil.

Brilliant Blue FCF (Blue #1, E133) and Allura Red AC (Red #40, E129) are examples of synthetic dyes that have found widespread use in the food industry.

Results of studies conducted on these synthetic food dyes are alarming. The Center for Science in Public Interest have long argued that these dyes may be linked to Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).

The results were supported by a study published in The Lancet, a U.K.- based medical journal in September 2017. Evidence on the presence of tumors after ingestion of these synthetic dyes were also found.

With all the health risks posed by the ingestion and use of these dyes, you’d be left wondering why manufacturers still can’t give up their use in food products.

Why bother using artificial coloring when we have plenty of natural plant sources? The primary answer is the cost.

Synthetic dyes can be mass-produced at a fraction of the cost of natural sources. Most natural dyes get spoiled or fade easily over time while synthetic dyes retain their vibrancy even after some time.

However, with the shift in the consumer preference to natural and naturally-derived food additives, studies have been conducted to address the concerns in the production of natural food colors.

The Department of Science and Technology-Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI) in coordination with the Philippine Textile Research Institute (DOST-PTRI) and Industrial Technology Development Institute (DOST-ITDI) are working together in developing natural food colors from readily available plant sources for different industrial applications.

With promising results thus far, the future of food manufacturing with natural food colorants is vibrant.

Would you make the switch?

For more information on food and nutrition, contact: Dr. Mario V. Capanzana, Director, Food and Nutrition Research Institute, Department of Science and Technology, General Santos Avenue, Bicutan, Taguig City Telephone/Fax Nos: 837-2934 or 837-3164; Direct Line: 839-1839; DOST Trunk Line:              837-2071 local 2296 or 2284; e-mail:[email protected] or at [email protected]; DOST-FNRI website: Like our Facebook Page at or follow our Twitter account at

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