Annatto extract (additive E160b) is a food coloring of plant origin, the color of which can vary from yellow to dark orange. The food supplement E160b is extracted from the seeds of Bix Aurelian. These trees grow in tropical and subtropical forests. The starting material for the dye is the red pericarp, which surrounds the seeds of the tree. A finished food supplement can be obtained by grinding the seeds or boiling them in water or oil.
Annatto extract has a fairly pronounced orange color. The hue of the pigment depends on carotenoids (a compound of two substances: bixin and norbixin).
History of occurrence
For the first time, the E160b supplement became known in South America, and then in other parts of Asia and Central America. The Aztecs used annatto extract for cosmetic purposes: they added it to paint and various body care products. Today E160b is the most applicable in the food industry. This is especially true of Latin America and the Caribbean.
In the United States, it is generally accepted that this food supplement has a natural color. For this reason, the dye does not need mandatory certification.
Despite the fact that the food additive E160b is a natural colorant, cases of allergic reactions have been recorded after eating or using the colorant. But still, this substance is called a safe dye for those people who do not have hypersensitivity to individual components and products.
At the same time, the completely allergenic properties of the supplement have not been studied. Studies were conducted only once - in 1978. At that time, tests were conducted on patients who suffered from chronic urticaria and Quincke's edema. The study examined the reaction of 61 people, of which 26 percent showed a reaction to E160b 4 hours after eating.
Compared to other natural and synthetic dyes, this result is not the best. Currently, scientists continue to research the annatto and its effect on the allergic reaction. Many scientists are sure that this supplement is the strongest allergen.
Annatto extract can be compared to vitamin E. It is also rich in antioxidants and tocotrienols.
Application and use of the additive
Annatto extracts are widely used in non-industrial production of products and in fairly large industries. In this case, the dye is a natural alternative to synthetic additives.
Most often, the substance is used to give products the desired color (from yellow to orange).
But often it is used for additional aroma and taste. It is known that the aroma is vaguely reminiscent of nutmeg, and the taste is nutty and spicy-sweet. For coloring, the annatto extracts are added to various products: cheeses, margarine, butter, creams, cakes and other confectionery. In addition, the supplement can often be found in snacks, breakfast cereals and smoked meats.
In addition to the food industry, E160b is used:
- in medicine;
- in cosmetology.
For cosmetic purposes, the substance is added to give the necessary shades to body paints and lipsticks. In medicine, annatto creams help against sunburn and bites of various insects.
Benefits and harms of supplements
Many scientists are convinced that this nutritional supplement has great benefits. Annatto has the ability to counteract the development of cancer and has an anti-angiogenetic effect.
This dye is included in the list of allowed dyes in many countries: Russia, Ukraine, European countries. Although the E160b supplement is considered harmless to the human body, you should not forget about safety.
Health workers do not recommend taking the supplement for children, as an allergic reaction may occur. In addition, a large amount of this dye can cause a sharp jump in blood pressure. To date, scientists continue to study the effect of annatto extract on the human body.