The use of colorants in food products is due to the fact that in many products colour is perceived as a characterizing element and indicator of quality.
Food industry uses colorants to make up for changes in colour due to production processes but sometimes also to mask the low quality of raw materials. In some fields, such as confectionery, colorants are largely used also for decoration and artistic purposes.

Dyes Typologies

The colorants used in food industry can be divided into two broad categories, natural colorants and synthetic colorants. Natural colorants are often of plant origin (anthocyans, carotenoids, curcumin), but can also be of animal origin (cochineal). Synthetic colorants are usually more stable and less expensive but are perceived by the consumers as more problematic for human health, the latest trend is to replace synthetic colorants present in products with natural colorants. The colorants can be divided also according to their solubility characteristics, therefore there are water-soluble dyes such as E127, E129 and anthocyans or fat-soluble colorants such as annatto, carotenoids or sudan. Regulations provide for the use of some colorants in certain food products (E123, E127, E142 etc.) while other colorants are forbidden because toxic (E103, E143, Sudan etc.).

Analytical Techniques

The analytical technique employed for the analysis of colorants is liquid chromatography. The use of high selectivity and sensitivity detectors (HPLC-MS/MS) and high precision detectors (HPLC-VIS) allows to face every situation in an optimal way, from the detection of traces of an unwanted colorant in complex matrices to the precise quantification of colorants present in high quantities.


Accreditation by Accredia (Italian Accreditation Body) according to UNI CEI EN ISO/IEC 17025 standard.
[Accreditation number: 0026, Certificate first emission: 14/11/1991]

The systematic involvement in Proficiency Test provides the external evidence about the test methods applied.
The full reports and the corresponding identification codes of Proficiency Test performed in the last year are available on this page for the downloading with a click on the code Ptest (in bold characters, see the following table).
Besides the matrix and the analytes analysed, the table shows also a synthesis of the obtained results in terms of z-score.

Legislative References

REGULATION (EC) No 1333/2008 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 16 December 2008 on food additives.


To request the last P-Tests results, please contact Quality Assurance.

Latest update: 09/11/2018 15:44:40