The present review summarizes the detrimental effects of synthetic colors and the beneficial role of naturally occurring colors on human health. It also aims to make people more conscious about the consumption of permitted synthetic colorants in food stuffs manufactured and sold by many food industries in India and the importance of replacement of artificial colors by naturally occurring dyes.
Human brain heavily relies on visual information, especially the color of the object, and thus the first impression and attraction towards anything, say food, is dictated by how it looks like. Food color is added in food stuffs for different reasons, such as, to replace the color loss during processing or to enhance the original color already used beforehand. Food colors can broadly be classified into two categories: natural colors and synthetic colors. Nature offers a wide range of colors suitable to be used as dyes in food stuffs in a limited way and thus natural colors have been used for centuries for imparting colors in foodstuffs. Moreover, the natural colors have well known antibacterial and anti-viral effects which in turn boost up our immune system. On the other hand, synthetic food colors are indigenously fabricated from coal tar, which found to be very stable under intense heat and light conditions. Though synthetic colors are widely popular in the food industries, they result in many detrimental health hazards particularly for children, such as, allergies, learning impairment, hyperactivity, impatience and some other assaultiveness. Popular uses of synthetic or artificial colors may also lead to risks which include memory loss, hypersomnia, depressions and allergic reaction in individuals with pre-existing asthma. Moreover, recurrent use of food products with color additives enhances the level of serum albumin and thus results in oxidation of fatty acids, reducing antioxidant enzymes in liver, acute inflammation and abstraction of kidneys etc. That is why the synthetic colors with permitted levels are being used in food and beverage industries over a decade, but it has also been found that the consumers have become more inclined towards consumption of foods containing naturally occurring colors. Nowadays, consumers are found to be more conscious and staying away from foods containing synthetic colorants.