Petfood Industry - December 2017 - 48
48 | www.PetfoodIndustry.com
Greg Aldrich, PhD
Caramel: natural brown color
for pet food with a hint of
from one production run to the next. That consistency aids consumer confidence. While the dog
or cat may not care, their pet parents do.
About caramel as a coloring
Caramel as a coloring is a
sugar that has been heated
to 'caramelize' and develop
various shades of brown.
It is common for standard extruded
pet food to be described as "brown and
round." This is supposed to be sarcasm
for a boring or mundane product;
however, brown seems to be a favored color in
pet food. For example, in canned chunks-ingravy products, the meats may be light gray to
tan and the starch-based gravy a white paste.
Adding some caramel coloring can be very
important to make these foods more acceptable.
This is where we see the introduction of
caramel into an ingredient panel. The judicious
use of color additives can help us achieve the
target appearance when the base ingredients pull
it in another direction (gray or white), and they
assist in creating a consistent-looking product
Caramel as a coloring is a natural occurrence.
It is simply a sugar that has been heated to "caramelize" and develop various shades of brown.
In the case of commercial caramel, various
refined sugars and reaction enhancers are used
to produce a broad range of color hues for use at
various temperatures, in a variety of base ingredient products and under specific pH parameters.
It is applied to everything from pastries to colas,
with pet food somewhere in between.
There are four classes of commercially
produced caramel and each is prepared under
controlled heating parameters with the addition
of enhancers: Class I with alkali or acid, Class II
with sulfite, Class III with ammonia, and Class
IV with ammonia and sulfite. These classes
correspond to the European Food Safety Authority's (EFSA) E150 a, b, c and d, respectively.
Shifting the pH accelerates the rate of reaction
and produces the different hues and stabilities.
These enhanced caramels are more effective for color, stability and flavor within the
given application; but, in their production, some
residual artifacts of the process may have health
implications. Because of this, they have been
evaluated in toxicology studies and have been
deemed safe for many years with little fanfare.
Dr. Aldrich is president of Pet Food & Ingredient Technology Inc. He is also the author of Petfood Industry magazine's monthly
column, "Ingredient Insights."