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article imageOp-Ed: Brilliant, multi-coloured candy with no additives? It’s here!

By Paul Wallis     Dec 19, 2019 in Food
Zurich - Food colouring and other additives are often considered to be dietary hazards, with good reason. The dyes usually aren’t food, just more chemicals. Now, a new technique is delivering incredibly coloured candies, particularly chocolate.
Perhaps fittingly, the new technique was developed in Switzerland by ETH Zurich. Switzerland is famous for its chocolates, but this time, they’ve outdone themselves.
Colouring is actually a rearrangement of the candy to form a polychromatic arrangement called a structural colour. The colours contain the entire visible spectrum, similar to a holograph.
Also intriguingly, the research, for a very nice change, was driven entirely by curiosity. (You may remember curiosity. It’s what happens when people are actually interested in things, not simply plodding through ancient industrial ideas.) The researchers were pondering things like “why is chocolate brown?” when the idea hit them to explore the issues. The result was a mix of confectionery and optical science.
Food Colouring – Issues and Problems.
Food colouring receives a pretty bad rap from many sources. One of the strongest arguments against it is that food has its own natural colours, so who actually needs it? The usual response is that it enhances the look of the products, and is an actual selling point at the point of sale.
• Food colouring is also an added cost for production.
• Some people are severely allergic to food colouring. That makes it life-threatening, not just useless bling.
• Many food dyes are made from petroleum. That’s not exactly a dietary asset.
• Food colouring is associated, not very specifically, with hyperactivity in children.
• Not all food colouring is just cosmetic. Beta carotene is a food colouring and one of the few with any real nutritional value. This is where the idea of structural colour from natural foods really does have excellent value.
Other applications? Could well be some great options.
Structural colour can be applied to a lot of different materials, not just candy. Candy crystals are a sort of template for molecular structures and optical properties. Why not check out the colour structure as a material for better food preservation, etc?
Let’s take it a step further - Why not re-apply colour structuring to polymers, etc for more dynamic, colourful packaging? Maybe even new materials? It could be a great surfacing effect, and with some more research, a whole palette of possibilities.
Looks like colour structuring is a first step in a whole new approach to colourising anything. It’ll be interesting to see how it evolves. This could be truly huge, with a bit of luck, and very productive for better food and materials science. Could be some great visual design possibilities, too. Imagine printing a Mona Lisa on a chocolate!
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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