Ingredient lists in Canada are getting more colourful, but not in the way they look!
The specific common names of all colouring agents must be used, as opposed to the formerly allowed (and very non-descriptive) “colour”. With amendments to the Food and Drug Regulations coming into force December 2016, industry was given a five year transition period to ensure their labels are compliant. This transition period was not given for the updates regarding food colour labelling, so all industry must comply immediately.
The list of permitted colouring agents is updated occasionally, as new food additive submissions are made, reviewed, and approved by Health Canada. It is still a highly regulated area, with strict rules regarding the amounts of colouring agents that can be used in specific foods.
One example would be “Sunset Yellow FCF”- here is one of the ways in which it can be used:
Some colouring agents do not have set maximum limits, but must still be declared in the ingredient list according to their common name. If you’re wondering why a food you’re eating has “Charcoal” or “Turmeric” or even “Ground Limestone” – it’s likely for colour since these are the acceptable common names!