top of page

The History of Food Colouring

Food colouring is present in many of the things we eat today. Many treats, some baked goods, and even some food products you wouldn’t expect have some sort of food colouring in them to give them the hues that they posses. Turns out, versions of food colouring have been around for many years. In more ancient times, colourful spices were used to brighten up certain foods and drugs. In fact, it has been found that the Egyptians used these techniques for hair dye and that wine was also artificially coloured later on. It wasn’t until the 1856 though that the first synthetic dye, mauve, was found by William Henry Perkin. It started being used to colour all kinds of things, ranging from cosmetics to food. Food colouring started being regulated in the 1880s, with cheeses being the first item approved to be artificially coloured. Before regulation became stricter, many food dyes were used to hide the fact that some foods had gone bad and many food dyes were actually unsafe. As regulation became stricter, more and more dyes were banned until only 7 were allowed by the FDA. Today, the FDA is in charge of approving food colouring in the US and are the ones that deem whether certain dyes are safe!


bottom of page