Examining the Links Between Color and Food

Staff Writer
The FDA looks into food dyes and hyperactivity while an artist plots food and color.
Examining the Links Between Color and Food

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What would food look like without color? Imagine if all the gummy bears in the world were clear, or if ketchup was no longer had that iconic red. In restaurants, the sprig of parsley or basil leaf that often tops a dish is meant to add a splash of color to the plate, to excite customers' senses. This past week, the discussion of color as it relates to food made several headlines. 

FDA Looks Into Dyes and Hyperactivity: On Wednesday, a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee met to discuss whether certain dyes and additives used in processed foods could lead to hyperactivity in children. The panel concluded that artificial dyes are safe to eat in most cases and will therefore not carry a special warning label, as was originally proposed. 

Taste-Testing Naked Cheetos: The Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University conducted a taste test pairing original Cheetos up against their colorless counterparts, Naked Cheetos. Participants noted less cheese flavor in the Naked variety and missed that the original version turned their fingers orange. 

Chefs Discuss Food Dye Usage: While the FDA met last week, Grub Street asked chefs of New York restaurants for their opinion on the matter. Eric Ripert reportedly doesn't use dyes in any of his food at Le Bernardin. However, Thomas Keller uses dyes to color his macarons. 

Using Art to Imitate Food and Life: Malaysian-born artist, Tattfoo Tan has created a project called the Nature Matching System based on the fruits and vegetables he would buy from his local farmer's market. After photographing the produce, Tan used Photoshop's eyedropper tool to identify the colors that represent them, 88 in all. Tan is working with New York City public schools to paint his murals in schoolyards across the city. 

The Daily Byte is a regular column dedicated to covering interesting food news and trends across the country. Click here for previous columns.