Functions of colour in foods, Biology

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Q. Functions of Colour in Foods?

Let us now look at the different functions of colour in details, which are enumerated herewith:

1. The maturity of many fruits and vegetables is closely associated with colour development or changes in colour. Colour is also indicative of the freshness of the product. Changes in colour take place on storage that may lead to reduced or increased consumer acceptance e.g. in tomatoes- green- yellow- red. So colour acts as a ripening index in fruits and vegetables.

2. Composition Aspects- Colour indicates the composition of the food. For example, in egg yolk, the intensity of yellow colour tells us about the pigment content.

3. Grades are assigned to the food products on the basis of their colour. For example, tomatoes are graded according to their size and colour. Different prices are allocated for different grades. This is important for canning industry where they assign different grades to the canned tomatoes.

4. The end point determination during food processing is also done on the basis of the colour of the final product. For example, golden brown colour of the fried products.

5. Distinct colours are associated with different flavours e.g. pink colour to strawberry flavour, yellow to mango flavour and orange to orange flavour etc. 

6. It has been seen that the flavour scores of an inferior grade (poor quality) juice can be improved by colouring it to resemble the juice of better quality. So colour serves as a standard of good quality. Also, the flavour identification becomes difficult if the products are coloured deceptively. For example, green colour for an orange juice. Also people describe white wine as less sweet in taste in comparison to the red wine even though the sugar concentration has been kept constant. Example, orange juice which had a yellow colour has been found to be less acceptable in comparison to bright orange colour juice.

Well then, colour, as is evident from the discussion above plays a crucial role in food acceptability. It contributes immeasurably to ones aesthetic appreciation for food in addition to being associated with other attributes. A number of instruments are used for colour measurements. The next sub-section presents a review on these instruments.


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