Achieving the Correct Hue

Processed Cheese Natural Color
A producer of processed dairy products, including cheese, was attempting to match color with a natural option in cheese slices for a quick service restaurant (QSR). They needed to achieve the QSR’s base color in order to win the business, while using beta carotene as the natural source. The producer met with scientists from Kalsec, who already source from beta carotene, to devise solutions for each sample provided by the QSR.

The producer worked with Kalsec to develop several different sampling options. However, the QSR trials were different than these color stability tests, and the producer was also experiencing manufacturing inconsistencies. This made it difficult for the producer to decide on a hue for the QSR’s base color, and for Kalsec to correctly identify the reasons for inconsistency.

“Processed cheese can be very challenging from a coloring perspective because replication of processing is essential to mimic how the color will express in the final product. Differences in recipe and processing can make the same color ingredient express differently in various cheese products,” said Ashley Huff, Associate Scientist – Applications, Kalsec.

To limit the differences experienced between lab trials and plant trials, the producer had Kalsec scientists run samples using the producer’s own on-site equipment. This would ensure that the solution would work for the producer and their capabilities. By maintaining these consistencies through trials, the producer was able to verify that they would be able to meet the needs of the QSR. Kalsec scientists conducted a plant trial with the color product at the producer’s facility.

Replacing Synthetic With Natural Colors

The QSR was in need of processed cheese slices that replace synthetic colors, FD&C Yellow 5 and Yellow 6, while maintaining light and color stability. Not only did the producer need to match the provided hues, but do so using only natural colors. The QSR wanted to use beta carotene in the new cheese slices, which Kalsec already sources pigments from naturally.

The producer was surprised to find that not only were the Kalsec natural colors more visually pleasing in their application, but it also remained visually acceptable longer than the original color in the cheese slice. The cheese slice producer appreciated the thorough research into their specific product inconsistencies. The QSR ultimately decided to use the cheese slice option provided by the producer in their product, a combination of natural beta-carotene and deodorized paprika, to achieve the right hue.

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